Friday, December 20, 2013

Crab and Old Bay Cookies

So a good friend of mine was born here in Maryland and recently moved to Florida. She has been a bit home sick. So I made her some Christmas Cookies with a bit of a Maryland theme. Crab and Old Bay. To those of you who are not from Maryland Old Bay is sort of the unofficial state seasoning it is a delicious blend of spices that goes perfect on crabs or shrimp or sweet potato fries. People around here put it on everything from crabs to chips to cheese.
Old Bay canister and cookie
The Old Bay Cookie is made with a square cookie cutter the Joy of Cooking's rich roll cookie dough and royal icing made the way that Sweetopia instructs. Everything is piped except the seasonings part is written using something called food writers. Food writers are basically markers of food coloring that you can use on well dried royal icing
Old Bay Cookie, canister and Crab cookie
Old Bay Crab cookie and Old Bay Canister
Crab is made with the same recipe for roll cookies and royal icing but the add of red disco dust and red edible glitter added while the red was wet. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sock Monkey Saturday with Sock Monkey and Tree cookies

This Saturday I went with friends to an annual tradition in my group of friends Sock Monkey Saturday at the American Visionary Arts Museum. Every year it is a blast kookie and charming all in one.
Since it is a four hour event I am always getting the munchies. This year for my friends and I I made some sock monkey cookies and a few trees.
Here they are with my sock kitten. 
And all of our sock critters all together. 
Next year I will have to get a real sock monkey cookie cutter MONKEY FACE cookie cutter

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baltimore Parade of Lighted Boats December 7 , 2013 Annapolis Parade of Lighted Boats December 14, 2013

As you are trying to get into your festive mood for this holiday season one of the best things in my mind is to go watch a parade of lighted boats. What is awesome is there are two locally in the next two weekends. Baltimore is on December 7 and  Annapolis on December 14.
Lighted boat parades combine nautical and maritime with Griswald like holiday cheer. The hours and number of lights used to create these displays is amazing.
Baltimore Parade of lighted boats is put on Fells Point Yacht Club and supports Toys for Tots. The best viewing area is the fells point pier and near the pier 6 area.  Baltimore's is much more spread out then Annapolis.

Annapolis( well the Maritime Republic of Eastport) puts on their lighted boat  on December 14. Eastport Yacht Club sponsors in Annapolis. The best viewing spot is at Pussers and the hotel right behind Pussers however the whole of ego alley is usually packed with people. People will line the bridge and boats will go on both sides of the bridge in about 30 minute groups.

How to watch a parade of lighted boats
1. Dress warmly for the weather. Layers and hats and gloves are key 
2. Bring hot chocolate ( spiked if adults is a delicious option) but hot beverages make this much more fun
3. Bring candy canes for some reason this adds to the fun and they take a while to eat so plenty of time to eat a candy cane while watching 
4. Bring friends and family. This is a great outing for the whole family or a group of friends more people exclaiming over angelic sailboats and trans out of sailboats and how in the world did they get that tug to look like a crab is much more fun. 
5. For Annapolis get there early as parking and finding a spot can take longer then you expect. Baltimore the parade is much more spread out so this is not an issue. 
6. Bring your Camera!! you want to snap some pictures. 
7.Have a pandora Christmas mix on your phone or some other way of playing a little Christmas music because you will have times where you feel like caroling or at least listening to Bong Crosby sing.
8. Make sure kids and clumsy adults stay back from waters edge you do not want anyone going in the water in December.
9. Merry Christmas

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rice Pudding using leftover rice from Chinese takeout

So last week was Thanksgiving and I was visiting at my sisters house for a few days. In the house were 12 people including 5 kids under six. I was doing a lot of the cooking for all 12 of us including a good portion of the Thanksgiving feast.  Because I was not at my house for a few days I had eaten down the fresh produce in my house and thus when I got home ordered in some Chinese food instead of cooking the first night back. Lazy, tasty, easy, and containing lots of vegetables and no turkey and requiring no more effort then a phone call. However, when it comes to Chinese food I love fried rice and thus almost always have a thing of that plain white rice they give you to go with the Hunan Beef leftover. What to do with the leftover rice when all the hunan beef is gone? Something festive to go with decorating the house for Christmas perhaps.  Yup Rice pudding. It is creamy cinnamon and nutmeg deliciousness.

Recipe ( this is the ratio per cup of leftover rice but it scales up and down with ease just measure your rice and adjust accordingly)

1 cup leftover takeout rice
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon(plus more for dusting top)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg ( please use fresh ground will taste so much better also plan on some more for dusting top )
Optional 1/4 cup raisins or craisins

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan ( or if scaling bigger use bigger saucepan of course but you as my reader are aware of that) break up the leftiover rice block with a fork
2. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15-20 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed and pudding is thickened
3. Decant into your planned serving bowls or ramikins.
4. Dust with ground cinnamon and nutmeg
5. Chill at least 2 hours or up to several days.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Gifts for Sailors under $50

It is that time of year and you are stuck trying to figure out what to get for that person who has everything so you think to yourself "she or he loves to sail I'll get them something sailing related". Ah but what to get in your price range? Below is a list of great gifts for the sailors in your life. ( Or yourself)

Under $10
Honestly there is not a whole lot boat related under ten dollars. But there are always stocking stuffer needs. So then you decide are you going to go fun like a drink koozie with sailboats on it.

Or are you going to go practical like white electrical tape

SailorBag Sailcloth lunchbag- Perfect for a few drinks and a snack. This is ideal for a few hour sail or for the sailor in your life to bring to lunch. $15
The Marlinspike Sailor - This book is how to do all the fancy knotwork. Some fun stuff to do over the winter to learn better line handling and things like splicing triple strand. $12.75

A rigging knife- Every sailor should own one and it goes great as a package with the previous marlinspike sailor book. They are great for splicing as well as useful for all sorts of applications. $17.12
Mclube- Ok not the sexiest gift or the most exciting but honestly almost every boat owner needs an extra can of this stuff. It is the best boat lubricant and so useful. So for the practical sailor this comes in super handy.$16.99

Leatherman Skeletool - I keep mine clipped to my shorts while sailing. The perfect combo of pliers and knife without anything much extra weighing it down this is my favorite multi-tool. This year mine ( with frequent washing) has done everything from crack lobsters to open beers to fix halyards or cut a new batten to fit. $39.89
New Sailing gloves- Go look at their old ones and get a new pair because racers will chew through a pair in about a year and a spare pair is always a great thing. Gil ones $25.36
This Ships Flask- Come one this is an awesome way to bring some rum down to the boat. at $25.39 this is sure to warm the heart of your favorite sailor.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Gifts for Home Cooks under $50

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming up fast and soon. Holidays are a great time and we all have those that are foodies or cooks in our lives. The probably have many tools but the question exists what to get that great cook that is making you your favorite dish? Prices may change as they are of the day I wrote the list

Under $10
Digital instant read thermometer in cute colors $8.99. Every cook needs one or more handy.

Manatea Infuser for Tea $10  Adorable little sea creature for the tea lover. Also awesome in soup pots for things like bay leaves that you want to fish out later.

Pepermint hot coco mix from Sur La Table Seriously this stuff is amazingly awesome. It is like french kissing Santa's elves. $10.95

Magnetic Retro kitchen timer. It adds charm to the kitchen and is super functional and makes a nice bzzing sound when it goes off. Comes in lots of cute colors. I have a blue one and friends are always asking where I got it. $11.56
Silpat Once they own one it will boggle their minds how they ever did without. From cookies to roast chicken one of these goes under and makes cleanup a breeze on everything as a matter of fact feel free to get people a second or third if they already own one. $17.24

Immersion Blender soups gravy sauces and smoothies are a wonder using this. Fast as anything to make awesome salad dressings. All sorts of easy emulsions and smooth things. Comes in all sorts of cute colors or classics silver or white. $34.95

Oxo Good Grips non skid cutting board- Ok you are thinking a cutting board?!? Yes a cutting board this one has grooves for liquids and a silicone bit that keeps the surface on the obverse from touching the counter it is the best real cooks cutting board. It does not move around and is solid and not that expensive at $21.99

Le Creuset Stoneware mugs- They have the heft of a good diners mug with the pretty Le Creuset colors and style. They are great coffee mugs that keep the coffee hot and I will admit that I felt envy at my friends place when she served me coffee in them. $39.95

Peugeot Pepper Mill- These are the best lifetime awesome pepper mills and do a fantastic job of size control along with easy grinding. $35

Nutmeg grinder- If you have been reading this blog at all you have heard me rant about how much better real fresh ground nutmeg is then the dried stuff in a jar. You have probably converted to the fresh stuff and might as well help your friends out. $26.15

Keep tuned you merry gifters I will be doing higher price limit gift guides as well as sailor gift guides.
Happy Holidays.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving Cookies: Turkeys and Mayflowers

     A friend of mine from sailing loved loved loved the J22 cookies I made for the Thursday  sailboat racing end of season party. She had not known how to do cutout cookies and decorate them but wanted to learn. So she came over my place on Sunday afternoon and we had some awesome pumpkin chilli she made, made dough, cut out cookies, made icing, and iced the cookies. With thanksgiving coming up we decided to make turkeys and mayflowers. 

     Despite both of us being sailors ( she is one of the best sailors I know) I think the turkeys looked better then the mayflowers. I found out that trying to draw in icing the yardarms of a square rigged sailing vessel is difficult. I'm still not sure we did the best way of icing those square rigged sails however I think they will pass as mayflowers.
     Upon looking at the Mayflower again, I think one of the mistakes was doing too many square sails and that it would have looked better with fewer yardarms. Oh well next thanksgiving. 
As usual for my cutout cookies I follow the recipe from the old Joy of Cooking

and the royal icing recipe halved from Sweetopia.
     It was  a lot of fun to hang out doing this with a friend who I really do not hang out with all that often outside of sailing. You know when you get friends where you really only see them at a certain activity how it can be great and nice to see them outside of that context. So better then cookies was just a really nice afternoon evening of hanging out. 

Hostess Gifts for the dinner or party host

We are entering into party season. The cocktail parties the holiday get together the glitz the glamour the fun the stress of trying to figure out what to give as hostess gifts. Sometimes wine is the answer but a bottle of wine will often get lost in a bunch and not stand out to stand out try these ideas. Plus do not forget to send your thank you notes. Receiving a thank you note a few days after a party leaves the warm hosting glow that encourages people to host more often.

For the dinner or cocktail party host
Nutmeg grater
Fancy oils ( a friend of mine gave me this one and I love it )
Jar of Sea Salt Caramel Sauce(recipe here)
Good Coffee for the morning - a lb of nice coffee is always appreciated
Some muffins or cinnamon rolls for the next morning
Paperwhite or an Amaryllis bulb they require no effort from host that day but show your kindness for next month

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Margarita Cookies for Fiesta

A friend of mine is having a Birthday Fiesta tonight and thus I made Margarita Cookies.

I always base my sugar cookies on the Joy of Cooking's old Rich Roll Cookies recipe. I follow it perfect except I double occasionally triple  the vanilla and tend to use the lowest cooking time. 
I follow the Royal Icing Recipe from Sweetopia. Usually I only make a half recipe as otherwise you need a ton of cookies and I am usually not decorating that many at once.
Actually, when it comes to cookies Sweetopia is the world best inspiration for pretty baked goods I highly recommend following her great stuff.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cheddar Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Pasta

So two nights ago I had roasted a butternut squash and eaten a bunch with my dinner. I was left with about 2 cups of roasted butternut squash leftovers and was inspired to make this fantastic pasta to use up the left overs create a yummy dinner for myself and  some to freeze back for quick healthy meals for the next month or so of hectic holiday stuff.
This is also the time of year that I am cutting back my sage so that it does well over the winter. So I went outside to gather the sage and use it to make the pasta even more special.

Regular Pasta 
4 eggs
200g semolina flour
200g all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sage pasta 
1/5th the regular pasta dough
2 cups sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g semolina flour

Cheddar Butternut Squash Filling 
2 cups leftover roasted butternut squash ( if starting from uncooked squash about 1/2 a large butternut squash roast till soft in 400 degree oven and then mash )
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

How to make regular pasta
1. Weigh out semolina and all purpose flour for regular pasta.Then mix together in a bowl.
2. In food processor with dough blades put the four eggs and pulse just 2 or 3 pulses just enough to mix the yolks and eggs.
3. In three or four batches add in flour and then mix to combine.
4. Add in salt. Process until dough has incorporated all the flour and is a ball rolling on side.
5. Put in ziploc bag and allow to rest.

How to make sage pasta
1. Boil the sage leaves for 5 minutes  to soften.
2. Drain and add to food processor with chopping blade.
3. Add olive oil and process until very fine chopped will almost look like pesto about 1 min
4. Add in 1/5th the regular pasta and process  30 seconds pulsing to mix
5. Add in extra flour and process again until fully incorporated and dough is ball rolling along sides of processor
6. Put in ziploc bag to rest

How to make Cheddar Butternut Squash filling
1. In food processor mix together all ingredients
2. Pulse repeatedly to combine

Putting it all together.
1. Using your pasta rolling attachment roll out your pasta on the #1 setting and then fold in thirds and reroll five or six times until the pastry is smooth.
2. Repeat with the sage pasta

3. Cut strips of sage pasta and place on regular pasta in a nice pattern push down lightly

4. Run through the #1 setting again twice
5. Run through the #2 setting twice
6. Run through the #3 setting twice and the #4 setting twice.
7. Put on ravioli mold pretty side down add a teaspoon of filling and then brush water in between the raviolis and place the top layer of pastry on (pretty side up)
8. Remove from ravioli from mold and cut using pastry cutter.

9. Boil 7 minutes or freeze in single layer and then ziploc and keep in freezer for up to 3 months.
10. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sea Salt Caramel Sauce

Fall has hit and this means apples are at their peak. Nothing is better on cut up apples then sea salt caramel sauce. Not to mention it is tasty on coffee, ice cream, and anything that needs a bit of fall awesomeness even just a spoon.
You need
1 large (3 or 4 quart) saucepan
1 small saucepan
2 wooden or silicone spoons ( not metal)
Measuring cups

For butter mix
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
1 tablespoon sea salt

For sugar mix
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
How to:
1.Put all the butter mix ingredients into small saucepan and heat on medium until butter is fully melted. Make sure to stir frequently as you do not want the half and half to burn. Once butter is melted remove from heat. 

2. Place the sugar and corn syrup into the large saucepan and then put in the warm water using some of the warm water to make sure any sugar or syrup that you got on the sides of your pan is washed down. Gently mix things together until makes a paste making sure once again to not get sugar up on sides. Put on stove on medium.

3.Wait at least 5 more likely 10 min occasionally looking at the pan. 

4. When the sugar mix begins to turn color start paying close attention when it is light brown (about the color of a lager like Sam Adams but no where near a Guinness in color nor as light as a Miller light)turn off the heat and pour in the butter mix slowly and while stirring( use a wooden spoon or a silicone spoon) It will bubble up and look impressive. Keep stiring it will seem solid for a minute and then turn liquid again keep stiring. 

5. Place back on medium heat. Stirring frequently for one to two minutes. The caramel will start to thicken and you can see this thickening as you stir. Everything will seem smooth and thick enough to coat the spoon or spatula

6. Remove from heat and once no longer bubbling pour into clean ball jars. Place lids on and bands. Allow to cool on counter and then move into fridge. This recipe makes about 20oz. In theory the sugar levels should keep safe at room temp for a few months but I tend to keep in fridge just to be safe. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Pin Fail Nautical Painted Pumpkins

So let's all admit we look at Pintrest and think to ourselves humm that does not look so hard I can do that. Yup that is me. For a year or two now I have seen people repinning cute painted pumpkins in preppy nautical paint jobs. Since Blue-green and orange look very good together and humm how hard could it be to paint an anchor I decided to try it. Somehow, I expected it to look more like the ones I see truly talented people produce. So here is my pumpkin for the year and it is nautical but less then adorable.
Nautical Pumpkin
However I am proud that I grew the pumpkin myself and that I tried. Now if you want to see cute ones go over to the blog Sand & Sisal they have some darn adorable ones for those of you with some better art skills.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sailing with an old friend

Yesterday, I went sailing with an old friend.  He is old enough to be my grandfather but is a friend from when we used to both race in the same fleet in days gone by.  We went out in his boat in order to watch the schooners from the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race leave Baltimore and get ready to start the race. Somehow what struck me about this great day on the water is how intergenerational bond building sailing can be. I spent a day in light air chatting about schooners and boats and back when stars were new and dacron were the high tech sails. It was a great time and absolutely wonderful. Somewhere along this light air day I got book recommendations and knowledge about cannons. This is the sort of lovely thing that sailing produces, a common bond.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

J22 Cookies

It is the end of season party tonight for one of my weekday races on J22's. We came in third overall. Because of this I decided to make some J22 cookies. Ok they are kinda general sailboat cookies but for this purpose they are J22's.
All of the spinnakers are based on the ones in the fleet.