Boat to Bowl…

A few weeks ago, husband and I decided to take a spontaneous ocean fishing trip on Labor Day.  We might make a tradition out of it because we both ended up having so much fun.  I think that this idea came up because  we happened to be walking by a marina the day before, and David commented on how nice it would be to be out on a boat.   After some browsing of the Interwebs, I found out that CT has these open “party boats”  – – no, not a booze cruise which is what I first thought — where you can just hop onto a fishing boat in the morning, no private charter or reservation required.   Score!

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So we woke up early, packed up a cooler with sandwiches, ginger ale, and water bottles, and off we went!

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This was our setup in our little corner of the boat – rod and tackle which we were able to rent, and burlap sack for holding the fishies.

IMG_5195There was a pool that you could enter for catching the biggest fish out of everyone on the boat.  I didn’t enter, but of course I caught the biggest fish.  The picture doesn’t really show how heavy and huge that thing was. Right before I forced a smile on my face for the picture, I was freaking out because these guys really BITE and struggle.  So I was trying hard not to drop it or let my fingers near its mouth.

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The first mate filleted the fish for us, which was great because  I didn’t have to do it.

So between the 2 of us, we ended up with almost 7 pounds of fish fillets.  I tried baking them first, but I was not a fan of the rather strong fishy flavor and tough texture.  David’s co-worker ended up taking about half of the fillets and smoking them for us in his smoker.  It basically turned it into fish bacon —  delicious, salty, and smoky — which then became smoked bluefish chowder this past week (recipe here).   To make it healthier, I left out the bacon and used fat free evaporated milk.

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So there you have it….boat to bowl 🙂

Happy weekend everyone!

Owl Hats

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I finished my first owl hat so I wanted to share with you all!  I was seriously squealing with delight as it was coming together because it was just so teeny tiny and adorable!  The original pattern can be found here (this person is seriously talented, btw!)

I did modify it a little to use yarn for the pupils instead of buttons, just because it was cheaper.  I mean, I could buy a ball of black yarn for $2 (and have enough for 500 eyeses) or buy 4 buttons for $1.50.  It is a little bit more work, but not too bad.

On a side note, David has been so intrigued by all of my projects lying around that he’s asked me to crochet something manly for him.  Haha.

Life of the Unemployed

For the past 6 months I have had the bittersweet privilege of being unemployed.  Granted, I did have 2 surgeries during that time so there are recovery periods and weekly doctor’s appointments factored in.  But for someone who has been used to long, intense workweeks and no summer breaks for the past 6 years, it was indeed a challenge to get used to all of the free time.  *Note: I personally count stay at home moms as being FULLY employed.

So, with no kids, no job, what do I do all day long?  Good question!

Well, for the first few weeks, I was sleeping nearly 12 hours a day, probably to fill up my “sleep bank” which had been seriously depleted over the past 4 years.

And now that we’re more settled into our new place, I’ve developed more of a routine.

In the AM, my morning round starts off with going to the gym.  My weekly rotation includes Zumba, Pilates, and kickboxing.  Pilates makes me the most sore by far (in places that I never knew could be sore!).  Zumba and kickboxing are just fun and make me smile.

Then afterwards, I’ll make my grocery store run to buy stuff for the day.  Sometimes dinner is simple and sometimes it’s more complicated.  Basically I crave something and try out a new recipe, or I just wander around the grocery store and buy the cheapest produce and protein and then come up with something based on that.

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My cooking style is very random — Chinese, Italian, Polish, or whatever Trader Joe’s stuff we have on hand.  A couple days ago, I had a serious craving for sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi, so I decided to try my hand at making my own since they never sell this kind at the store.  They turned out delicious!

<recipe below>

In the afternoons, I usually crochet for a couple of hours while watching TV shows on Amazon. Yes, I know I’m like an old lady but I don’t care. 🙂  My recent TV show faves are Covert Affairs, Suits, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Iron Chef America.   So many people are having babies coming up so I thought it would be fun to do some projects to give away.  I just finished my first baby blanket (yay!) and I’m starting a baby owl hat too because I think they’re adorable.  I currently have enough supplies for 6 (pink only) so order up now!

So, life is very different right now, but still good. We are trusting that God has a plan and will give us direction as David looks for jobs and I figure out what to do with my life.

And now, the pierogi recipe!  Original dough recipe here.  I left out the butter with no adverse effects on the taste or texture.

Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi

Dough:
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2-5 tablespoons of water

Filling:
1 quart of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp sour cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil sauerkraut in water and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain.  Saute onions and mushrooms, then add sauerkraut and saute until cooked through.  Set aside to cool.  Once cool mix in sour cream and salt and pepper

For the dough, mix together flour, salt, egg, and sour cream with dough attachment on mixer.   Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is slightly sticky and moist.  Continue to knead until smooth. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.  Divide dough into 2 portions and roll out to 1/8″ thick on well-floured surface.  Cut out as many 3″ rounds as possible.  Fill with filling, making sure that edges are well-sealed.

Pierogi can then be frozen or cooked.  Cook in salted boiling water until floating, about 3-5 minutes. Then remove and pan fry in olive oil or butter until golden brown on both sides.  Serve with sour cream and applesauce, or just fresh ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Weekend Happenings

It’s been a great weekend so far!  And this lazy Sunday afternoon is just the cherry on top.

On Saturday morning, David went and got a long overdue haircut while I went to the gym for yoga/pilates.  David invited some of his coworkers and their significant others over for dessert and games in the evening, so we spent much of the day running errands, cleaning (David) and baking (me).  We vacuumed and dusted for the first time since my parents left in the beginning of August, which makes me think that we should have people over at least every few weeks just so our house stays clean.

Baking was an adventure (a very frustrating adventure) in and of itself.  I was trying a new recipe and somewhat rushing to get it done, so all sorts of mistakes were made — I accidentally put peppermint extract instead of vanilla into the beautifully creamed butter and sugar, so I had to toss it and start over.  Then the cake rose over the top of bundt pan so I had to shave it down to make it flat.  Then the top of the cake stuck to the pan coming out, so it was ugly and bumpy even after trimming it. Then when I tasted the cake, it was dry and coarse (probably because of over baking is my suspicion), so I ended up flipping it back over, poking holes in the bottom and soaking it with caramel and condensed milk to moisten it.  Then the caramel topping for the top was too thick and wouldn’t pour right so I had to remix another batch and thin it out with milk.  Ugh!  But the end product was decent looking after I covered the top with walnuts and choco chips.

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(original recipe here — I left out the ganache, and used Sweet Shoppe USA’s Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Sauce for the topping).  Plus it turned out to be really tasty – rich, decadent, super chocolatey, and delicious, especially with vanilla ice cream and a glass of milk.

Only one couple ended up coming over, but we had a great time hanging out, eating dessert, and bonding over Mario Kart.  Given that we only hosted one time at our last place (sad, I know), I think this is a great start!  We hope to have people over much more often in the future.

Today, after many weeks of visiting different churches, we went back to the church that I think will be our home for this year.  It is small, very homey, has solid teaching, and is very diverse, which we love.  It was baptism day today, which they do once a year at this church.  So after a brief message from the pastor and testimonies from the people being baptized, we all drove to the beach.  David and I maybe stopped to get corn dogs at the diner across the street before everyone else showed up because we were hungry.  Some people brought guitars, and we sang and praised God right there on the beach while people were baptized in the ocean. Baptisms are always so encouraging to me, because they are such a testimony of God’s faithfulness.  I absolutely love hearing how God has worked in other people’s lives, then seeing them publicly declare themselves as belonging to Him. It makes my heart so happy 🙂

Then David and I tried out a nearby BBQ restaurant because we had a coupon.  The ribs were good but not great, but the brisket…oh man.  So smokey, tender, delicious, and juicy.  We chowed down, had to pack up a couple of those ribs, then came home and promptly passed out for a few hours.  Beautiful day! 🙂

Uncle Willie's 2BBQ Sampler plate – beef ribs, Kansas City pork ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket.  Sides – mac and cheese, potato salad, cornbread.