Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sailing The British Virgin Islands {Part Two}



{part two of three}

For those of you who've been following along, Dan and I went on an awesome sailing trip in the Virgin Islands a few weeks ago. Here is part two of the three-part journal post that I'm working on. If you're just joining in now and want to catch up, here is the previous post. I should have put this video in part one, but I just discovered iMovie last week! So here are a few clips of the trip! 





Day Four
We sailed from Anegada back to a dive spot called Blonde Rock, a set of two pinnacles between Dead Chest and Salt Island. D and I snorkeled today and swam through thousands of tiny baby jellyfish . Ouch. They felt like little needles and left dime-sized red blotches on our skin. Thank the lord their bigger and more painful mamma wasn't around. After our morning snorkel we sailed to Virgin Gorda and explored the famous Baths – giant boulders with a menagerie of  tiny waterways and sea caves with crystal clear water. We squeezed though cracks and jumped off rocks. This place is a sight to see! Picture perfect.We spent the night anchored off Cooper Island  - cooking, drinking wine, swinging in the hammock and worrying/getting amped for the RMS Rhone dive in the morning. I must have asked a million and one questions that night. It was only our (mine and D's) second dive and 85 ft deep. "What if this happens….what if that happens?" Did you know you can barf under water and put your regulator back in? Who knew? Don’t worry, I didn’t... but I had to ask. I’m a planner. ;)


-my babe and a morning stretch-

-blonde rock and rhone dive on the map-

-blonde rock friends-

-the baths-

-yumi jumps-

-& evan splashes-




Day Five
I woke up early this morning and made French toast with cream of coconut syrup, mangos, pinneapples and oranges for the crew. Mmmm I didn’t eat a lot though…I was already jittery and nervous for the dive + didn't want my question from the night before to come true. barf.
We sailed a short distance to Salt Island and got ready for the RMS Rhone Dive. Cole and I dove first! I asked him to teach me how to do an emergency backup regulator switch just incase something went wrong. I wanted to know that I could make the switch without messing up (my motto: prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Right? D says I worry too much…I call it being smart). Thumbs up. I did ok. We eventually descended the 85 ft to the ocean floor with a few helpful foot pulls from Cole. 

Wow my mind was blown!The huge RMS Rhone Ship lay on her side right before us! It was an eerie feeling being up close to such a devastating wreck and touching something that has been underwater for almost 150 years. 

The RMS Rhone was a Royal Mail Ship that carried mail, passengers and cargo between England and the Caribbean. In October if 1867 a major hurricane hit the Virgin Islands. The “unsinkable" Rhone; planned to make for open sea. As a safety precaution the passengers in Rhone were tied to their beds to prevent them from being injured in the storm. The Rhone struggled to get free as her anchor caught on a coral reef. It in now lies with its chain wrapped around the same coral it caught on a century and a half ago. The ship sank swiftly -- the bow section in 85 feet of water, the stern in 30 feet. 123+ people went down with the ship that night.

Our dive went perfectly, besides my lack of divers sign language (apparently thumbs up means I want to go up…should have done the OK sign instead. Oops). I wish it was longer, but I’d imagine that’s the same with every dive. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! So grateful to have friends that made it possible for us!

After my dive I got to watch Danny descend (with my heart) for his dive. Oh gosh I can’t take knowing he’s at the bottom of the ocean.  He’d actually be far better off surviving an underwater situation than I would. But still, I can't watch him do scary things. Good news, everything went well with his dive too. Thanks for taking care of my baby, Jeff!

That afternoon we anchored at Peter Island and found coconuts on shore and I got a chance to climb the mast. The views were amazing and the picture I took was even reposted on Goops Insta by Gwyeneth Paltrow! What? Yes!How did that happen?


-french toast party-

-camera & dive gear-


{cheesing it up under the sea}



-this picture makes me feel like a badass...but i'm actually trying not to hyperventilate ;)-

-drink of choice and climbing a mast-

-playing peter pan on peter island and the picture that ms. palrow reposted. can we be best friends please?-

-ladies and gentlemen, i give you peter island-
-fun fact: when bill gates stays here he pays extra for planes to change their flight pattern so they don't fly over the island and disturb his relaxation...crazy-


Day Six
Woke up and the boys had already set sail to Brown Pants…yes that’s right Brown Pants. A dive spot known for it’s cool under water arches and BULL SHARKS. Hence the name. I opted to stay on the boat and open coconuts while the majority snorkeld and dove. Poor Ryan suffered “Mask Suck” or sinus problems that led to some uncomfortable swollen eyes after his dive. Miss Mon our personal Nurse cured him with an ice pack. Phewf.
That night we moored off Norman Island (AKA Treasure Island) in Privateer Bay around the corner from Willy T’s in The Bight Bay. We heard there had been theft in Bight Bay so we decided to moore a little further away and take the dinghy to Willy’s that night.
Oh Willy T’s…you were hilarious, fun and disgusting. Our first shotski.

Motoring back to the boat that night was magical…in a tipsy blissful state, surrounded by my love and friends in the black of night and the warm water glowing with bioluminescents in the wake of our dinghy. Ahhh a night to go down in history.


-this took me an hour-

-treasure island sunset-

-laundry day-

-exploring the shore for me treasuuuuuure-

-found it-

-snorkeling the caves on norman island-




-cheers friends-



Click on the links if you want to read more about our trip...

                                                Days 1,2,3, (part 1); Days 4,5,6 (part 2) and Days 7,8,9 (part 3)
                                                                                                 to come.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cranberry Beet Porridge with Blackberries, Pomegranates & Coconut



A fabulous way to jazz up your boring morning porridge. Danny ate two bowls...it's that good. I should have made more.

Ingredients:
2 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup beet juice  (from juicing or boiling a small diced beet in 1/2 cup water) 
1 cup cream of wheat
1/4 cup cream of coconut

Toppings:
blackberries
pomegranates
dried coconut 
cream
drizzle with cream of coconut

Directions:
Boil cranberry and beet juice in pot. Add cream of wheat. Whisk until well combined and lumps are gone. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in cream of coconut.
Serve warm in bowls and sprinkle with toppings.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Pesche Con Crema {Italian Peach Cakes with Vanilla Cream and Peach Jam}


A BEA-UTIFUL and surprisingly easy Italian recipe of old.  It is traditionally made out of little lemon cakes that are hollowed out a filled with lemon cream and then sandwiched together. I was a tad confused -- why lemon? They look like peaches. So I wanted to make this traditional treat with a twist...one half filled with vanilla cream and the other half filled with peach jam. I thought the original recipe was missing that peach zing. So here you go! Mmmmm peaches and cream.

Pastry Cream 
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour


Peach Jam 

Store bought


Dough 

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Grated zest of 1 lemon

 

Assembling the Peaches

1/2 cup rum + 2 tablespoons peach schnapps

Red food coloring (or a bit of beet juice if you want to keep it au naturel)

1 cup sugar, or more as needed for coating

Fresh peach leaves for decorating

 

Directions:

Make the pastry cream: Simmer Milk and vanilla bean paste in a large saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly blended;  add flour to the egg mixture and whisk until combined.

Slowly whisk hot vanilla milk into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until cream thickens and begins to boil.

Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place plastic wrap over the top; pressing down to prevent a film from developing on top of the cream.

..................

Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix flour and baking powder together. In a large separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar. Whisk in milk, butter, and lemon zest until combined. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing with a fork until the dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick mats

Roll dough it into a walnut sized balls (about 2 inches in sizes). Place balls on prepared baking sheets spacing about 1 inch apart. Slightly flatten the tops with your palm.

Bake until bottoms are lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes; tops will remain pale. Transfer to a rack.
..................

Assemble the peaches: While the cakes are still warm, use a small, sharp knife to cut a circle about the size of a quarter on the bottom (flat) side of each cookie, taking care not to crack the edges. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out enough crumbs to make hollow and hold about 1 teaspoon pastry cream and jam. Set cookies aside.

Pour rum and peach schnapps in a small bowl. Add enough red food coloring (or beet juice) to create your desired shade of peach; set aside. Fill a shallow bowl with sugar; set aside.

Fill half of the hollowed-out cakes with 1 teaspoon of cream filling and the other half with peach jam. Sandwich two little cakes together. Using a pastry brush, brush the "peach" with colored liquor and roll in sugar to coat. Place on a rack or plate when done. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, pierce each "peach" with a toothpick where the two cakes come together and insert the stem of a peach leaf. 










Sunday, February 15, 2015

Strawberry, Raspberry, Rhubarb Chocolate Bombs





An adaption of the pervious and wildly popular German Chocolate Bombs...I bring you the Strawberry, Raspberry, Rhubarb Chocolate Bombs. Ok the truth is, those were the things I had in my fridge so that's what I used. You can basically use any sort of fruit or filling that you like. Same results...different filling. Oh, and I added some shortcuts to make things easier on you. Do I dare say it? I think I prefer this filling even better than the original recipe. Gaaaaasp! No, no both are wonderful, but there's something so fabulous about creamy chocolate mousse with berries! Yes. you've got to try it + this recipe is pretty freak'n cute.

Ok Here we go. You ready for this?


For the cake
Shortcut: If you're lazy like me and don't want to make the chocolate cake from scratch --> buy a box mix of Ghirardelli  brownies and slightly under bake them. If your feeling ambitious, then by all means follow the recipe below. 
Cooking spray
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 oz. (1/4 cup) natural cocoa powder 
1-1/2 cups boiling water  
7 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar  
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature  
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

For the filling
1/2 cup Rhubarb or Strawberry jam (whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh finely diced strawberries

For the chocolate mousse
Tip: This recipe contains raw eggs; if that’s a concern, buy pasteurized.
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), chopped (about 1 cup) 
3-1/2 oz. (7 Tbs.) unsalted butter 
2 large eggs, separated 
1 Tbs. granulated sugar 
3/4 cup heavy cream 
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
Pinch kosher salt 

For the glaze
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), finely chopped (about 1 cup) 
2 Tbs. light corn syrup 
1 cup heavy cream 





Make the cake 
TIP(If you are making the cake from scratch follow the directions below. If you are using the box brownie shortcut -- cook brownies in a larger baking dish so they are no thicker than 1 inch after baking.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Coat a 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Put the chocolate and cocoa in a medium heatproof bowl, add the boiling water, and whisk to combine and melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. 
Beat the sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl halfway through. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk and vanilla—the batter will look curdled at this point. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 additions) with the chocolate mixture (in 2 additions), ending with the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter to level the batter.
Bake until the cake springs back when poked in the center with a finger, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. (Well-wrapped, the cake will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator, or up to 1 month in the freezer.) 

Make the filling
Mash filling ingredients in a bowl until the raspberries and strawberries have blended with the jam (no big chunks).

Make the chocolate mousse
Melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir with a spatula to combine. Set aside to cool slightly. 
Whip the egg whites in a clean stand mixer fitted with a clean whisk attachment on medium-high speed to soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue to whip to stiff peaks, 3 to 4 minutes. 
In a medium bowl, whip the cream with a whisk or electric hand mixer to medium-stiff peaks. 
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Mix the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture with a spatula. Fold in the whipped egg whites, then fold in the whipped cream—there shouldn’t be any visible streaks. 

Assemble the bombes 
Set two silicone bombe molds that hold at least 5 bombes each (3-1/4-inch diameter and 1/2-cup capacity) on a 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheet. 
Turn the cake out onto a cutting board. Use a 3-1/8-inch round cutter to cut 10 circles from the chocolate cake.  
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mousse into each mold and smear it evenly all over the insides of the molds with the back of a small spoon. Evenly distribute the filling among the molds (about 2-1/2 Tbs. each), and then gently press a cake circle into each mold. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
Unmold the frozen bombes one at a time onto a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or over a sink. 

Glaze the bombes
 Put the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a medium stainless-steel bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat until just boiling, then pour it over the chocolate mixture and let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring.
Pour the glaze evenly over the bombs to coat them completely. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. (Glaze the bombs no more than 8 hours in advance.) 
Let the bombs sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Golden Turmeric Milk Tea {Immunity Booster}


It seems like everyone I know has had the sniffles this past month. Some how I have miraculously escaped the seasonal bug this year…knock on wood. I have been drinking lots of veggie juice and many cups of this wonderful “Golden Turmeric Milk Tea.”

Turmeric, in recent years has attracted a lot of attention for its healing properties and various health benefits. It is a well known home remedy for headaches, colds, chest pain, sore throat, toothaches and many other ailments. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants galore. Recent studies have even claimed it aids in preventing and treating diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. It’s undeniably a magical spice. You can drink it daily or whenever you need an added immunity boost. It sounds odd but tastes amazing -- similar to a vanilla chai.


Ingredients

2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 inch of fresh ginger root chopped
2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon grated cardamom
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 aniseed star (optional)
3 threads of saffron (optional)

Directions
Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir to prevent the milk from scalding. Heat until little bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Do not boil. Strain and serve warm. *I like to grate a bit more nutmeg on top or float star anise.




Monday, January 12, 2015

Sailing the British Virgin Islands {Part One}



10 friends, a boat and a map
{part one of three}

A few weeks ago, Dan and I went on a trip of a lifetime…. literally I can’t imagine a more amazing trip. I’ve been posting along on insta. We sailed the BVI’s on a 50ft cat with 10 of our best buds. I found myself relaxing in the bow net thinking, “Wow, how are we here right now? How did this happen to us?” I believe my favorite day included scuba diving a 150 year old shipwreck, climbing to the tippytop of our cat’s mast and cracking open fresh coconuts found on shore. We were adventurers, semi-sloppy "wine connoisseurs" and wannabe pirates for 9 beautiful days. We were free as can be! Each night I would watch that sunset and count my lucky stars. Thanks Evan and Mon!

I’ll share my journal with you day-by-day, in a 3 part post and give you all the ins and outs if you want to see the same sights and sail the same route on a trip of your own some day.

- Day One -
We landed in St. Thomas along with our friends and took a cab to Charlotte Amilie’s “Fast Ferry” to catch a boat to Tortola, BVI to pick up our Catamaran from Voyage Charters. Three or so of our friends graduated from Cal Maritime, so no need to hire a captain. Our friend Evan sent in his resume and the company approved him the rental. Yahooo. 10 friends, a map and our own boat!

After an hour or so ferry ride, we arrived in West End Tortola and went though customs. We took a taxi to quaint little Soper’s Hole in Frenchman's Cay to pick up “Knot Bad”.  We ordered our groceries from a market in town and they delivered them to our boat. Well that's convenient!

It was a beautiful night with big fluffy clouds and a warm breeze. I loved listening to the jazz music playing at the restaurant in the distance as we unpacked all the groceries on the boat. Huge tarpon fish swam below our boat in the glowing blue water. I went to bed with a smile on my face. "We’re actually here!"

-ferry ride to tortola-


-our home for the next 9 days-

-fluffy clouds and tarpon-

-miss mon's blurry head and a beautiful night sky-

- Day Two-
We departed from Soper’s Hole and sailed to Beef Island to join the Full Moon Party. All the moorings near the island were full so we anchored at Little Camanoe (a deserted island) nearby. We spent the day snorkeling for shells and relaxing on the beach. The boys hooked up a hammock to the boom and we’d take turns lounging in it. Our friend Monica made Painkiller drinks and we all slipped into a state of  complete happiness. That night we ate family style - all 10 of us around the dinner table and feasted on BBQed pork, tofu and veggies.  After dinner we crammed everyone into our little dinghy and ventured off into the night, crossing the channel to Beef Island. I must admit I was a tad nervous with 10 people in a struggling dinghy motoring further from land than one would want to swim at night.  But alas we arrived safely and I learned to trust my seafaring sailors…we made it to the Moon Party.
It was cool…a bit of an older crowd (40-50's) but still cool. Long Bay on Beef Island is a mile or so stretch of beach with fun bars and hippy-dippy pottery shops. We drank rum punch and danced with Moko Jumbies and fire dancers all night.  They even had an aerial silk dancer that hung from a crane! 


-coffee and some journaling-


-floating at little camanoe with beef island in the distance- 



-diving for shells-

-sandcastle playdate-


-happiness in a hammock-



-fire dancers and beach bonfire-

-moko jumbies-

-my love-

-Day Three-
We sailed to Great Dog and anchored near the Coral Gardens Plane Wreck. Dan and I had never  been scuba diving before, but four of our friends were certified and they talked us through the whole process. I had always wanted to learn how to dive! I think I was more nervous about Danny diving than I was. I have a rather vivid imagination and sometimes it gets the best of me. But when would we get a chance like this again? Seize the moment right!? We were in good hands…the best of the best. Danny and I each went with a friend equipped with a dive watch and fancy diving goodies. Wow what a feeling! Breathing underwater is so amazing…it felt like a whole new world was opening up. Now I have dreams about breathing underwater. I’m hooked. I want more! Thanks for taking us Jeff and Cole! You guys are the best!

We had a fun time exploring an Atlantic Air BVI plane that crashed after takeoff in the 90’s (no one was hurt), the plane languished in a hangar for some time prior to being dismantled for scraps. The BVI dive operators were able to persuade the owners to give the fuselage over for use as a dive site. It was sunk in about 45ft of water east of the dive boat moorings on Great Dog Island. It was beautiful and amazing! I even managed to swim inside the cockpit while Cole took a picture! Unreal!

And that was just the morning…after the dive we sailed to Anegada Island and radioed-in a reservation for the Anegada Reef Hotel restaurant. 10 freshly caught lobsters were awaiting us. Sailing was long today about 4 hours between Great Dog and Anegada. It was nice though, most of us took advantage of the time by lying out in the nets or reading and I took to making coconut-iced coffee for everyone. Aww this trip is a dream.

Upon arrival at Anegada we moored the boat and explored Pomato Point - walking along the white sand beach with turquoise water.

That night we bobbed in our floaties, watched the sunset and ate like kings.

-my babe and our morning snorkel at great dog island-


-snorkeling with jeff and ry. checking out the reef-


-suited up for my first dive. crashed my plane ;)-


-mooring at anegada-


-a view and a yumi-

-a cute man in a doughnut and coconut iced coffee-

-danny and me time-



-dive baby dive-

-friends-

-anegada reef hotel dinner-


-love this man-


Days 4,5,6 (part 2) and Days 7,8,9 (part 3)
to come.