Friday, February 26, 2016

Butternut & Brie Ravioli

Looking at the menu for one of the best restaurants in Grenada I noticed that they offered Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce.  I've made this a few times in the past and always enjoyed it, improving on my technique each time.  I had some Brie cheese that was near expiration so I ventured that that might be nice to incorporate into the ravioli as well. It was a great combo!

Butternut and Brie Ravioli

Makes about 20 to 24 raviolis

1 small Butternut Squash (when cooked you'll need about 3 cups of squash)
Wonton or Eggroll Wrappers (you can make four raviolis with 2 Eggroll Wrappers
1/4 pound of Brie cheese
salt to taste
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
Olive oil
1/2 stick of butter

Steam squash until soft. Mash it in a bowl adding the spices and mix well.
Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the squash mixutre in each corner of the Eggroll wrapper.
Place a thumbnail sized slice of Brie on each squash.  Make an egg wash with the egg, whisking.
Brush the eggwash liberally around each spoonful of squash.  Lay another Eggroll wrapper on top and press down onto the bottom wrapper, sealing around each squash laden corner.  Cut the dough around each ravioli discarding excess.  Lightly oil plate and lay each ravioli on plate, lightly oiling additional raviolis added to the plate to avoid sticking.

Toast butter in a pan until the milk solids are a medium toasty brown.  Remove from heat. Avoid scorching.  Set aside.

Bring a 4 qt. pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add four raviolis at a time gently to the water.  If they stick to the bottom, gently loosen. When they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon, set in strainer to let water run off.  While still warm, arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with the browned butter.

Tip: If you make more than you need at a meal, they can be frozen (keeping separate until frozen) for
a few weeks. Simply boil, slightly longer than when they are fresh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grenada Paintings

Calvigny, 24 x 36"

Self-portrait, 12x12"

Venus' Nipple, 12x12"

Conch, 36x36"

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cocoa Tuna with Passionfruit Ginger Sauce

 This recipe is almost entirely from the book The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof

4 Tuna Steaks cut about 3/4 inch thick
4 T ground cocoa powder ( I used the cocoa balls which are infused with spices and used for a 'tea')
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 T brown sugar
1 T coconut oil

Rub steaks with the spice/cocoa mixture. Heat pan with the coconut oil. Sear steaks to desired degree.  Turning once. (about 2 minutes per side for medium/medium well)

Passionfruit ginger sauce:

4 T butter
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
2-3 inches peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
3 T coconut milk powder
2 T flour
3/4 c. passionfruit juice
1 T dark rum
1/4 tsp tumeric

Saute garlic and ginger in the butter until lightly golden. Add flour and coconut powder and stir the resulting paste until it's a nice dark gold.  Then add the juice, rum and tumeric and cook until it thickens.  Serve over or alongside the steaks. This is also good on steamed provisions such as yams, plantain, etc.


I haven't updated my paintings in a while.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, they suffer from a bit too much inspiration in that the subjects, and approaches are all over the place, from palette knife to decorative borders; from a colorful tropical palette to a subdued tone on tone grey piece.
Jazz in 4/4 Time, 36" x 36" acrylic, with collaged fabric from Artfabrik (Grenada)

Reef Impressions, 12" x 12" acrylic

Fall Edge, 6pm, 36" x 36" acrylic
Rocks & Waves V, 12 x 12 acrylic
Flotsam, 24" x 36" acrylic

North of Gouyave, 12" x 24" acrylic

Grenada Cottage, 12 x 12 acrylic
Homage to Breadfruit, 12 x 12 acrylic

Sailin II, 12 x 24 acrylic, a tone-on-tone palette knife piece.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day and Key Lime Pie

Stovetop Key Lime Pie
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  It was a Sunday. We decided to take a bus to the Carenage and treat ourselves at the Grenada Chocolate Company Shop.  We got off early when we saw the gates to the Botanical Garden were open and we’d not been there yet.  We’ve seen some great botanical gardens over the years but this one we would not recommend for any reason. It didn’t even have much in the line of picnic benches to sit in the shade under while escaping the sun’s rays.  It had no labelled specimens, nor collection of native trees.  It essentially was the groomed front yard to a number of government buildings.

We left there and walked through the Marryshow area to the shore, a two or three block stretch which was the site of the riots and rebellions of the youth groups and nurses during the 1960’s led by Maurice Bishop.  Like current day Tunisia and other countries of the Spring Revolution, the revolt is usually led by the young idealistic and then co opted by the extremists who corrupt and threaten the original impulse.  

We made it to the port and the Carenage, which is simply a strip of buildings that encircle the harbor. In the past they were bars and brothels to serve the sailors and now it is an assortment of things such as an eyeglass store, a casino, bars and deserted buildings.  It holds a certain charm in that you can still see the ‘bones’ of it’s past.  
The Carenage
There is a ten foot bronze sculpture of Christ called, Christ of the Deep which was a gift from the people of Genoa Italy in gratitude for assistance by the Grenadians when a Genoese boat sunk due to an on board fire.  Normally the Carenage and the associated Young Street where all the art galleries, boutiques and chocolate shops are, is bustling with tourists but today we had the advantage of having it to ourselves since it was Sunday and there were no cruise ships in port.  The disadvantage was that all the shops were closed. So we grabbed a number one bus back to Wall Street.

Wall Street is an area on the main road, behind Grand Anse Beach which is a retail and office center.  There are a number of banks, restaurants, a mall with an IGA, a hardware store and street vendors.  We walked then to Umbrellas, the famous beach restaurant.  This was our third time there.  The first time was great. Although we only had drinks, since we went to watch a football game, it ran like a well oiled machine.  Staff seemed so efficient. The second time we went with four other friends. It was a Saturday night and it was busy.  It was a complete disaster.  Music so loud it literally hurt, staff in a complete kerfuffle about who was serving who.  Orders mixed up, bills inaccurate.  You wonder why we’d try it again?  Well it was Valentine's Day and they have live music on the beach.  So we sat and waited for service and waited some more.  It wasn’t especially busy with customers, the music hadn’t started yet, maybe too few waiters.  But we waited about twenty five minutes and never even got the eye of a waiter.  So we left and walked down the beach where we got a drink at the Radisson Bar so we could use their beach chairs.  This was a lovely location, relaxing under a sea grape tree our fingers sifting the silky soft sand listening to a damn East Coast American loudly bargaining for a tour of the island with a local tour guide, for a good half hour, repeating himself over and over; did I say loudly?  

Off we went up the beach to the end of Grand Anse, where we live.  We were getting hungry and so we stopped at the Clam Bar, a local little street restaurant which serves great cheap food.  Randy and Dixon are brothers and they recently leased the place from Captain Harris in hopes of making a go of it. Captain Harris’ is a rather large complex of Cottages on the shore owned by a real retired Captain, of what, I’m not sure.  He rents mostly to younger couples from Venezuela, the Spanish, as Randy calls them.  Randy and Dixon make local fare such as the Oildown which we as yet have not managed to get.  On Valentine’s they had no special romantic offerings, just burgers and fries. But the burgers were amazing!  Huge for one thing.  We each only ate half.  They dress the half pound burger with cabbage slaw, lettuce and a sauce and then put it in a panini or cubano grill to toast the bun.  They also finish their wraps in the grill. Nice touch.  We discovered that there was a back deck overlooking the sea so both times we’ve had our meal there; the million dollar view of Grand Anse Beach, balancing our clamshells on our laps.  Although we told Randy that they should fix this up as an eating area he agreed and said they are ‘working on it’.  This time he brought us a table made from an old sign board (something about For Sale by Owner) but it was an improvement.  Nice guys, good cooks; I hope they make it.

Sunset from Fall Edge (our digs)
We made it home in time to take a swim at sunset, shower, watch the moon set over the water and watch a good movie ‘Chef’ before tucking in.  

This morning the water taxis plow through the water taking the cruise ship clients to Grand Anse Beach where they can ‘relax’ for the day under their rented umbrellas with over-priced drinks.  

Actually the two drinks on the beach cost us more than the whole dinner and drinks at Randy and Dixons, yesterday.  

Oh I forgot to mention that I made Key Lime Pie for us for a Valentine treat.  It turned out great! I don’t have an oven so I had to google ‘stove top’ recipes.  And I had no pie plate so I had to rig up a stainless steel bowl instead.

Key Lime Pie

crust: Crumble enough cookies or graham crackers ( I used Digestifs) to make about two cups or more of crumbs.  Melt nearly two sticks of butter.  Pour into crumbles. Mix until all are moistened and press the mixture into the pie plate.  Refrigerate to harden.

½ cup (or slightly more) fresh squeezed lime juice with zest of lime
1 can (14 oz. ) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks

Combine egg and milk until smooth.  Add lime juice until smooth. Pour into crust.  Place in refrigerator for a minimum of four hours.  I did it overnight.

Topping: whipping cream
¼ tsp vanilla
Whip cream to soft peaks, add vanilla whipping a bit more.

To loosen pie if it’s stuck to pan, set it in a some warm water for a minute or less making sure to not spill any water on the pie. Cut piece, remove and top with whipped cream. Serve.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

West Indies Shakshuka

This recipe is originally from Tunisia and I altered the ingredients  to turn i into a West Indies style dish.  The curry replaces paprika and the coconut milk replaces water.  Cilantro for parsley (which I'm allergic to anyway).  Otherwise it's pretty similar.

West Indies Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 3-4
2 T coconut oil
2 green peppers sliced
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon West Indian Curry powder
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 T tomato paste
4 medium tomatoes chopped
1 cup coconut milk
salt, to taste
3 eggs
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, curry, tumeric, cayenne, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Add tomatoes and their liquid, tomato paste to skillet along with 1 cup coconut milk, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
Crack eggs over sauce. Cover skillet and cook basting the eggs with the liquid in the sauce once or twice or until yolks are set, about 5 minutes.   Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and cilantro and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tropic of Pasta

My paintings as well as my cooking suffer from a bit too much inspiration and possibilities. My pantry is well stocked now and I've been reading a travel book with recipes that takes place in the Caribbean including Grenada, The Spice Necklace. The following recipe is an amalgam of her Starburst Salad and a Yummly recipe I saw. 

The Tropic of Pasta

I avocado
2 T fresh lime juice
1 chopped tomato
1 c chopped cucumber
1 T banana ketsup
1 T pepper sauce (opt)
1/2 cup fresh coconut meat coarsely grated
1/2 c cilantro chopped
1/2 pound cooked and cooled pasta
1/2 cup or more dry roasted salt peanuts

Mash the avocado adding the lime juice, banana ketsup, pepper sauce and cilantro. Combine well with pasta. Add remaining ingredients and top with crushed peanuts. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gettin' Kicked Around by Jenny

Sailin’ past Kick ‘Em Jenny
The swells were as big as a small house, with winds gusting to 28 knots…..

I had downloaded Windfinder to my phone and it turned out to be perfectly accurate in its prediction of 25 knot winds (with gusts to 28) for Tues and Wed of our trip.  Yata and I being neophytes to this sort of sailing; we had only sailed on Lake Pepin and the Great Lakes a time or two; didn’t quite know what to expect.

We sailed Sunday to Sunday, Jan 24 to 31st on the Chinook, a 42” mono-hull Bavaria yacht with three berths with Kay Hamilton, Dwight Jelle, Jeri and Dave Erickson.  Dwight was the captain and he and Kay have had a lot of experience including racing as well as weeklong trips through the British Virgin Islands and the Grenadines.  Dave and Jeri purchased Kay and Dwight’s Tartan sailboat and have it at the Pepin Marina. So they too have years of sailing experience.  

We departed Sunday about 2pm after a couple hours of loading and instructions.  We were also told that it was unlikely we’d make to the north end of the Grenadines in the amount of time we had.  And we were leaving from the south end of Grenada which meant that we only made it to Dragon Bay, just north of the port city of St. George’s (Grenada’s Capital) and the bay closest to the
Underwater Sculpture Park.  We anchored here so we could snorkel the park the next morning.
This was one of my ‘top of the list’ things to do but I was disappointed with it.  I guess I’d rather snorkel a great reef instead.  The concept of the underwater sculpture was a good one and it had grown some coral which made the sculptures a part of the environment and a more interesting concept.  But some were damaged and neglected.  I think Grenada should grow the concept and make it much more. Maybe invite a competition for designs.  And then if they were mapped out or a map was provided...that would help as well.  We may have missed some of the sculptures that were there for lack of a map. (PS I just found a map online and realize that we did miss many of the sculptures on the first go...will have to try again.)

We got a late start Monday morning. We left for the sister island of Carriacou at about 10am.  We were bucking some strong winds already on Monday and realized about mid day that we risked not making it before dark to the island. As there were no good anchorages in between, we back tracked to what became a sleepless night in a bay that we named Toilet Bowl bay or Monkey Poacher Bay.  It was a very small bay at the base of a mountain valley that funneled the strong winds down and around the base of the bay.  When you anchor your boat, you set the anchor in sand and let out the line. The anchor hooks into the sand and you then put the engine in reverse to really set it hard.  Then you snorkel over the anchor to see if it moves at all.  I checked it with Dwight. I thought I saw it move a few feet. He didn’t think it did though.  We had an overhead power line above and we were in about 13 feet of water. The keel is six feet deep.  Dave set an alarm that would squawk if the boat moved much from it’s original placement.  At about 1am the alarm went off and it turns out that the boat had floated in towards shore, closer to the power line and was now swinging in a completely different direction in shallower water. Dwight sat up on board for hours keeping an eye out.  Dave didn’t get any sleep that night either as he listened to the alarm squawk.  Yata slept through the whole deal.  By morning all was fine, we were back in our original position in the toilet bowl.  By the way, the Monkey Poacher Bay name was due to us watching flashlights spotting up into the trees in the hillsides around our part of the bay for a while.  We don’t think they found any monkeys though.

We were determined to get to Carriacou the next day so we left plenty early.  This was a very high wind day with a crossing near the underwater volcano, Kick ‘Em Jenny. Dave’s wife Jeri’s monicker became Kick ‘Em Jeri, and inspired a new song from Yata and his guitar.  The seas were huge with swells up to 25 feet high at times. We rocked and rolled our way all day over this 19 mile crossing.  Only one meal of sandwiches was sacrificed to the floor of the galley. Not bad considering.  Everyone handled the waves without trouble but with the help of some Bonine and motion sickness wristbands.  

-Although two days after disembarking from the ship, I’m still wavy in the head. The sound of the sea invokes the sway of the boat as does sitting on the toilet! Makes me wonder if I should take some Bonine!-
The Sisters, just off of Kickem' Jenny

We arrived late afternoon in Tyrrel Bay on the south west corner of Carriacou. There were already about eighty boats anchored and we had a bit of a challenge finding a spot that wasn’t too close to another boat and yet not such a long dinghy ride to shore.  We found one spot in front of a Catamaran hailing from Germany.  
Tyrrel Bay

Klaus, as we named him, came over to inform us that our boat would move differently than his.  If our anchor wasn’t set well enough it would come loose and we’d bang into him. But it was set fine, and even so, we moved the next day to an new opening. Tyrrel Bay was a great spot. A marina for taking care of basics such as bathroom, shower (if you could sweet talk them), garbage disposal, ice, etc.  There were also a number of good little restaurants, a couple dive shops, small supermarkets and bars, of course.  We ate at the Lambie Queen (Lambie is Conch) and had a exquisite homestyle Key Lime Pie.  Although we got the last piece and even though they said there would be more tomorrow and we checked each of the two subsequent days, it never materialized.  We also ate at the Lazy Turtle (or is it Horny Turtle?) where we had the most fabulous pizza. The star was the Category Five: Smoked Fish, sun-dried tomatoes, horseradish cream, all on the basic margherita.   Another memorable meal was from the Gallery Cafe where they served sumptuous salads smothered in fresh vegetables and savory seafood.

One of the best things about Grenada is the public transport and even on Carriacou, there were the mini-van buses.  We took an island tour to the port city of Hillsborough. The route took us over to and along the east coast where is was sunny, dry and picturesque.  Goats grazed in the long grasses with the Atlantic as a backdrop.  Local woman climbed aboard to greet ‘good afternoon everyone’. Passengers answered our musings.  We had seen men picking from a tall shrub and when I said, ‘that’s the plant’...a gentleman informed us that those were pidgeon peas.  Kay asked how they were prepared and he said, cooked or raw.  Later we bought some and made a fried snack with them and later added them to an egg and potato breakfast.  We also found the well regarded Patty's Deli where we purchased top shelf sliced cold cuts for sandwiches.

Hillsbourough port
Hillsborough, was a small but bustling town.  Later the boys took a bus to town while we women stayed on board, and found a great sunset bar, the Eclipse.  Upon returning we heard about the craziest driver EVER.  The bus was full and when Dave said something about there being 25 people on board (including babies and children) the driver said no, ‘it’s 25 people but only 19 people units’.

On the third day we hired Lumba Dive shop to show us the snorkeling reefs.  Again, it was still extremely windy and they took us to Sunset View Reef outside the bay.  But the visibility and waves made it a struggle.  Dave and Jeri are new to snorkeling but they were intrepid and although their gear was rented (from the sailing charter, not the dive shop) and was not making it easy for them, they hung in there.  Dave even said, ‘ I think I’ve found my new favorite sport’.  We did see, though, a lionfish which they hunt to extirpate because they are non-native and destructive of the local fish population, a couple stingrays and other assorted coral and fish.  We took a break and then went to another reef inside the bay where conditions were much better.  Visibility was good and we saw some very intriguing filefish and eels. The next day we left for Petit Martinique, the third sister of the Grenada islands and along the way stopped on Sandy Island, a marine park to snorkel as well.  

We arrived along the shore of Petit St. Vincent (PSV) and anchored.  It is about 3 miles from Petit Martinique (PM).  PSV is not part of Grenada and thus is technically part of the nation of St Vincent.  Since PM and PSV are small and fairly far from the customs office on Union Island, they don’t really enforce the customs rules.  But PSV is mostly a resort for the rich and famous so we weren’t able to swim ashore as most of it is private. Dwight went to snorkel the anchor setting and check the reef nearby. He reminded us that this may be our last chance to snorkel so Jeri, Dave, Yata and I decided to go in.  We observed a lobster diver trying to find lobster on the reef we were on. He had one long fin, and one boot on and a full wet suit.  We didn’t see him have any success though.  I thought I’d try to drive them toward him in hopes of of being rewarded with a lobster but to no avail. As I was returning to the boat I spotted some eyeglasses on the bottom, about ten feet down, about my max free dive. I managed to retrieve them from the bottom and thought, “great these are better than the ones I just lost overboard, if not a bit masculine for me”.  As I climbed aboard I said, “ look what I found “ and Dave said, “those are mine!”  Turns out he didn’t even realize he lost them, must have dove in with them tucked in the front of his shirt.  What are the chances I’d find them?  Yeah!  

We were hungry and reading in the guide book that the restaurant Palm Beach on PM was good and had a boat that would pick us up and return us. So we called and they said that their boat wasn’t that dependable for evenings but that we could use their mooring ball for the night.  We lifted anchor and went to PM to use the mooring ball. We had a lovely dinner under a palapa pavilion near the shore, under the starlight.  Seafood including lobster since this is a fishing island. The next morning most of us went ashore to hike the island. We climbed to near the top and could see to the east north east and to the island of Cananoan and Tobago Cays.  Again more goats, wind and panoramas.  The local man who encouraged us to climb up this way had a new enterprise; making flour from bananas.  

We reboarded about 9am and departed for a heavenly sail back to Grenada.  The Jimmy Buffet tunes and sun and wind were all a perfect combination for making it a perfect sailing day covering 40 miles.

We arrived back in the area just offshore from our Grenada digs by about 5:30, a dinghy ride to Grand Anse beach and dinner at Umbrellas.  Our king size bed was only yards from our boat where our cramped berth was.  I felt like a deserter but when I asked, ‘ would it be cheating for us to sleep on shore tonight’, our captain said, “if I had a good bed that close, I would”.  So we slept in our apartment and Dwight picked us up the next morning by dinghy at the beach below our place.
Our apartment, lower center

We needed to be back to the True Blue Marina by noon so we set sail after another great breakfast by Kay.  I think we went through a pound of coffee this week.  We were all drinking and making it stronger each day.  The final sail into the True Blue was a sunny day with just the right amount of wind.  Yata and I learned so much...the vocabulary of sailing, first of all (it’s line not rope).  We also began to ‘get’ some of the concepts.  I’d say that there is a real art to sailing as well as the physics of sailing.  You have combinations of two sails, a head sail or jib and then the main sail.  You can use one or both, you can have them working in tandem or in point where they are going in opposite directions.    There are lines and pulleys, winches, masts and sails. Port and starboard, fore and aft.
Jean at the helm with Yata

We ate a lot of delicious meals on board with Kay as our chief chef, but everyone pitched in during the week.  At night, Yata brought out his guitar and we sang under the stars.  Everyone took photos and I made some paintings in my watercolor sketchbook.  

This is one thing to take off my bucket list but in some ways it’s adding a couple more. It’d be great to come back again and visit St. Vincent and its Grenadine Islands.

Our mates were great to spend seven cramped days at sea with.  They were so relaxed and competent...and fun!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kay's Boatbabe Curry

An excellent recipe by 1st mate Kay. Or should I say galley wench!

Boat Babe Curry by Kay

2 onions chopped
3 fingers ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper chopped
Sauté above in 2 T coconut oil. 
1 c chicken broth
1/2 can coconut milk
2 T tamarind sauce
1/4 c peanut butter
1 T turmeric or more
1 T cinnamon
 1/4 c coconut cream
1 T fresh thyme