Saturday, November 17, 2018

A day in the life of a liveaboard, part 7

It's only mid-November, and Thanksgiving is not until next week, but old man winter is showing up a little early for the party. With temperatures in the low 30s and 40s F the last several days, baking is the perfect solution to keep the boat warm. I was craving for some homemade cookies and muffins anyway. My go-to muffin recipe is from an old issue of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. I've baked from other recipes, but this one is a keeper (recipe below).
Orange Poppy Seed muffins
After five consecutive days of cold and dreary weather, the sun finally came out today. With a high of 58 F this afternoon, we seized the opportunity to kayak across the river to see some of the last traces of fall colors.
Kayaking across the river (Hales Bar Marina in the background)
This is it. Most leaves were gone.
Avid fisherman Mark is out no matter what the weather. 
Back on the boat, we enjoyed an afternoon snack of muffins with green tea.
muffins with green tea
Master Recipe for Basic Muffins [print recipe]
Cook's Illustrated Magazine, Feb 1997
Serves: 12 muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1½ cups plain low-fat yogurt
Vegetable cooking spray or additional unsalted butter for muffin tins

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2 Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in one-third of yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with yogurt, until incorporated.

3. Spray twelve-cup muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray or coat lightly with butter. Use large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve warm.

For Lemon Poppy Seed
Follow Master Recipe for Basic Muffins, adding 3 tablespoons poppy seed to dry ingredients and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup lemon juice in small saucepan, until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve

Cook's Note: I used orange, and I halved the recipe because I have a small convection oven.

Have a great Thanksgiving, y'all!

This post is shared on Weekend Reflections, Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Barcelona Reflections

Last night, we stumbled upon the travel show  I'll have what Phil's having on Netflix. The host Phil Rosenthal is the creator of the hit TV comedy Everybody Loves Raymond (1996 to 2005, and was our favorite show at the time). We watched two episodes of the travel show; in each, he skypes his parents and reports his experiences in the new city. In Seinfeld fashion. Phil is a comedian all right. The episode on Barcelona is the inspiration for this post. We were there this time last year.

It was our first visit to Barcelona and we were very impressed with the city, from the architecture to the people and its food. It is vibrant, friendly, ornate, and full of surprises at every turn. Architecture buffs will rejoice in ambling along Passeig de Gràcia, where three Modernista buildings - Casa Amatller, Casa Batllo and Casa Lleó Morera - stand in the same block (between Carrer del Consell de Cent and Carrer d’ Aragó).
Casa Amatller
Casa Molera
Casa Batllo
Alleyways are fun to wander around
Fancy street lighting
We spent a day walking all along La Rambla to Maremagnum, the distinctive waterfront mall at Port Vell. We were more into people watching than shopping. There are plenty of places to sit outside, soak in some sun and watch the boats and kayaks go in and out of the port.
Mirrored entrance to the mall
Reflection of us in front of the car in the middle
Barcelona is a food lover's paradise. The churros were delicious, and the array of tapas was amazing. We discovered a store called Vicens, which makes some fantastic nougat and chocolate. We were lucky to run into a food festival or farmer's market on a Saturday morning.
Tapas at Taverna Basca Irati
The Boqueria, the market along the La Rambla is a feast for the eyes. We tried the ubiquitous jamon but found it too gamey for us.
Endless varieties of seafood at the Mercat de la Boqueria
You can eat at a bar at the Boqueria
Jamon at a farmer's market
Jamon at a restaurant
Street food near Parc Ciutadella -roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts. Yum!

The only thing we missed was a good paella dinner. We'll have to come back. Meantime, we look forward to watching more of Phil's travel show. Have you seen it?

This post is shared on Weekend Reflections and Our World Tuesday. 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cruising North Carolina

Hurricane Florence dominated the news all last week. Initially, the forecast was for a category 4 (140 mph winds) storm, but thankfully it weakened to category 1 (90 mph winds) when it made landfall near Wrightsville Beach Friday morning. The storm surge and the relentless rain from the slow moving storm have caused catastrophic flooding in the region.

We know the North Carolina coastal towns well, having cruised up and down the East Coast twice. Even though the last cruise was in 2004 (fourteen years ago!), we remember some places vividly, thanks to our passion for writing, and taking pictures and videos. There were many first experiences: eating hush puppies and chicken n dumplings, listening to the thick Southern accent, and visiting Beaufort, Elizabeth City, New Bern, Ocracoke, Washington, Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.
Mai Thai (middle) on the Dismal Swamp heading for Elizabeth City
Our trip's log to Ocracoke on the Outer Banks can be found here.

Cape Lookout was a destination on our cruising bucket list. We got there an hour before sunset. Unfortunately, the weather started to deteriorate; we spent an uncomfortable night rocking and rolling. So much for the protected anchorage. Alas, we never set foot on the island as we ran back to Beaufort the very next morning.

Passing by Shackleford Banks, we spied a bunch of party-goers frolicking on the beach. We decided to join in the fun. It's shallow here, so we cautiously sounded our way in.
Shoals appear at low tide at Shackleford Banks
Sometimes the best plan is having no plans at all. Shackleford Banks was paradise! We spent several blissful nights enjoying the calm waters and the peace and quiet. Beautiful sunrise greeted us every morning. Wild horses roaming the beach awed us, and shelling was the best (on the East Coast)!
Beautiful sunrise at Shackleford Banks, Beaufort
Wild horses strolling by was our morning scenery

Pamlico River as we headed towards Little Washington
And how can we forget Wrightsville Beach? It's a cruiser friendly beach town with amenities and a sizeable anchorage. Its vicinity to the Masonboro Inlet provides easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, so many cruisers like to stop here. The current flows in and out, easily turning boats around no matter what the wind direction, and at slack tide all the boats swing every which way. But the holding was good, and it's a great place to meet, or meet up with, other cruisers. In October, we stopped here for a few days on our way south. We hung out with friends we met in Baltimore and took a taxi to check out Wilmington.

Upon our return, we found a Canadian sailboat had dropped anchor kinda close to our boat. We have the utmost respect for sail boaters, especially since this one came all the way from Canada. We were concerned but didn't say anything. Around 6 the next morning, we heard a loud BAM! We jumped out of bed and clambered up to the deck of the boat. The Canadian sailboat had rammed into us. The captain apologized profusely. Turned out he did not let out enough line. How he managed to travel so far without mishap was beyond us. Luckily Mai Thai got away with just a minor scratch.

These were some of our cruising adventures in North Carolina.

Currently, many towns in the state are inundated by the rising waters. Some parts on I-95 is flooded. Wilmington is completely inaccessible. Sadly, Hurricane Florence had done quite a bit of damage. We pray and hope for the best for the people affected.

This post is shared on Through My Lens, Our World Tuesday and Weekend Reflections.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Have yard sale, will travel

I admit it. I'm a yard sale junkie. Our first house was furnished with many kitchen tools and knickknacks bought from a flea market in lovely New Hope (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. In the past ten years, we've visited the marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris, France, the Brimfield Antique Flea Market in Western Massachusetts, and community yard sales from Tennessee to Florida.

So when the annual longest yard sale arrived on the first weekend of August, I was ready. Driving on Lookout Mountain Parkway through TN, GA and AL is very scenic with vistas of mountain and farmlands in the valley. This year, I went with locals who know the yard sale circuit well. Friday found us on route 28 and 127 in the direction of Dunlap. We stopped in private homes, barns and many vendors along the side of the road. The town of Dunlap is yard sale central. Many vendors lined both sides of the main drag. There were more vendors past route 111; unfortunately, it started to rain, giving us the perfect excuse to close our wallets and stop buying more stuff that we don't need.

This Louisiana couple found some furniture

A lovely drive through rolling hills to this house in the distance
Estate sale at this house. Teapots, anyone? 
I was on a roll. On Sunday, I rounded up another friend to go to Mentone, Alabama, about 45 minutes away. We had a blast shopping, chatting with the friendly locals, and eating at a popular restaurant.
Many vendors were set up in this campground
A hefty $50 for this license plate!
this Southern gentleman and his wife run a store in Summerville, Ga

Wildflower Café is housed in an 1800s log cabin. You have to be careful walking to your table as there are small uneven steps throughout the restaurant. A strolling guitarist serenaded the diners at their table. The café is famous for its tomato pie, but the polenta shrimp grits was to die for!

Prime rib sandwich, polenta shrimp and grits, tomato pie

How was your weekend?

This post is shared on Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.
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