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Bread, On the Water, Shrimp, Travel

Harvest Moon Regatta, Voyage of the Booty-Ful

crew of the Booty Ful

Crew of the Booty-Ful , at the finish of the Harvest Moon Regatta,

I figured out long ago that if I volunteered to be the boat’s cook, I’d usually get invited back to sail again. This happened again, but it turned out to be one of those times that Mother Nature flexed her muscles and things did not work out as expected.

The Harvest Moon Regatta is about 24 hours of continuous racing off the Texas coast from Galveston to Port Aransas. We left the dock in Kemah at sunrise and motor-sailed to the starting line off Galveston for our 2pm start. It was a beautiful day. The winds were picking up a bit as the sun rose. Just perfect.

Leaving Booty-Ful's home port in Kehma TX at dawn to reach the startline near Galveston by 2pm

Leaving Booty-Ful’s home port in Kemah, TX at dawn to reach the starting line near Galveston

I wanted the pre-start lunch to be special so I made popovers stuffed with shrimp salad. A popover creates a perfect pocket for all sorts of stuffings – you can hold it in one hand and half of the stuffing doesn’t fall out onto the deck like it would with a regular sandwich. Perfect if you have to do things while you are eating.

shrimp salad_MG_8806.CR2

Shrimp Salad with a Popover

At 28′ Booty-Ful was the smallest boat in the racing fleet. The largest boat was 75′.  86 boats competed and 25 of those boats did not finish the race.  Because of the large number of boats, the fleet was divided into groups of six boats.  Each group was given a specific start time.  Our group hit the starting line at 2pm.

We managed to get a perfect start and away we sailed. Tom, our captain, chose to sail about a mile off shore. As evening approached we held a good direct line to the turning mark on a broad reach almost all the way to Port Aransas. At night, all boats turned on their running lights (a white light at the top of the mast with red and green lights lower down).  You could see the other boats’ lights which looked liked stars: a few sprinkled around us and more between our boat and the shore. We were ahead of all but one boat in our group and passed a few boats that started before us.

As the sun set the wind freshened (blew harder) and before we knew it we needed to put on foul weather gear. The wind increased and waves started to break over the bow sometimes. We were wearing our life lines, which are very strong bungie cord-like lines that attach our PFDs (life jackets) to the boat so no one goes overboard. The boat was pitching so much that you could not stay below standing up. I tried to make roast beef sandwiches and ended up not being able to stand up in the galley. At times when I grabbed the handrails near the ceiling, the floor was at such a crazy angle that I couldn’t get my feet on it! The pitching nauseated most of us who went below. I had planned meals that could be put together quickly with no cooking but the pitching made it too difficult to get to the cooler and put together  the simplest of meals.  On deck everyone was fine, if wet. Melissa, one of the boat owners, came up with a solution for the nausea – she had peppermint oil which we rubbed on the back of our necks. This cured the nausea in minutes!

With the wind blowing stink and wave heights reaching 8′ for a good part of the night, I tried to nap by the side stays, curling up on the walkway between the safety line and the cabin.  The waves would crash over the boat every few minutes so I only dozed a bit.  Several of us took turns at the helm.  I could only drive for about 30 minutes because of the strength needed to sail the proper course with the wind and waves.

Luckily Melissa had made the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten, which really saved us. Easy to eat and slightly sweet, it was perfect for delicate stomachs. Add in a few bags of chips for the salt, of course, and you had our bad weather menu.

Melissa’s Banana Bread


My dinner plans of rare roast beef and boursin in challah buns, with fruit and Nutella to be served in mugs for breakfast … all got eaten on the calm sail back to Booty-Ful’s home port north of Galveston.

As the unexpected storm blew in, quite a few boats turned back.  Although she was the smallest boat, Booty-Ful sailed straight and true, finishing well up in the middle of the pack. Small and Fierce we christened her. What a great crew and boat!

Desserts, Travel

Lemon Meringue Pie – for my sweetie pie

lemon merangue pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

For years – 20 or so – I have been making lemon meringue pies for my husband because I thought it was his favorite. Last Thanksgiving I made a pecan pie. I rarely make them because I find them too sweet. At dinner my husband exclaimed ‘Pecan pie, my favorite!” Oh well. It is good to learn something new.

I’ve tried all sorts of recipes for lemon meringue pie and most of them take a long time. A few years ago it dawned on me that lemon curd was the perfect lemon filling because it makes the pie quick to create and not a chore. If you buy a crust, it is a cinch. I often make the dough and the lemon curd a day ahead.

At the Koffee Kup in Hico, Texas they make a lemon meringue pie with a meringue top well over 6” high. It is a marvel. In Hico you’ll also find wonderful chocolate confections from Wiseman House Chocolates.

The meringue in the lemon meringue pie does not reach the 6” height but add another egg white and you might make reach it!

Lemon Meringue Pie

one 10″ pie


1   Old Fashioned Pie Crust, made with this recipe.

Lemon Curd, made by doubling this recipe.


3 egg whites (room temperature is best but not essential)

1/2 c sugar


Mixer, 1 large mixing bowl (very clean), spatula


If you are doing this in one day, start by making the pie dough. While it is cooling in the fridge make the lemon curd. While the curd is cooling, roll out the pie dough and place it in a 10-inch pie pan. Chill the pie crust one more time to stop shrinkage and blind bake it. Pour the lemon curd into the baked pie crust.

Finally, preheat the oven to 400F and make the meringue: whisk the egg whites until they begin to get fluffy. Add half the sugar while continuing to beat.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks just begin to form. Add the rest of the sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.

Spread the meringue on the lemon curd, making sure to completely cover the curd and sealing the meringue to the crust.

Place the pie into the 400F oven and bake for 7 minutes.  The meringue will be slightly crisp, golden brown on the outside and lovely and soft on the inside.

Drinks, Fruit, Travel

Limoncello, Salute!



Making Limoncello every fall is a tradition in our house. It’s a unique gift and I love to use it as a special treat throughout the year.

It all began when I went to Italy years ago with two friends and my mother. We spent several days in Rome then drove to Umbria and stayed just outside of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and the Franciscan order. Assisi is on the western flank of the mountain of Monte Subasio. We spent a rainy but beautiful week driving the curving back roads as far north as Florence and all around Umbria.

The first afternoon we drove up Monte Subasio until the snow made us turn around. On the way down we found a tiny restaurant jutting out over the edge of the mountain. We were generously given a table in the middle of the small dining room and were kindly greeted by the other diners with help ordering and with stories of life on the mountain. I had my first pasta with black truffles there, which I remember to this day. Capping off this lovely, hilarious evening we toasted our good fortune with a small glass of limoncello. The proprietor even gave Lisa the small glasses as a gift.

We found ourselves placed at the middle table in quite a few small restaurants. This pattern of meeting lovely people, pantomiming our way through a delightful meal and finishing the evening with limoncello, was set for the rest of our trip.

Limoncello is made in three steps:  1. The lemon zest is soaked in vodka for 30-40 days. 2. Then more vodka and a simple syrup is added to the soaked lemon zest. 3. Finally, the limoncello is decanted and stored in the freezer until used.


This takes less than 30 minutes of active time.


18 lemons, zested. Be careful not to get any of the white pith in with the zest because it is bitter.

1 Bottle (750ml) 100 proof vodka

1 Bottle (750ml ) 80 proof vodka

3c sugar (used in step 2)

3c water (used in step 2)


A 1 gallon glass jar, a zester,  and a strainer (used in step 3)


Step 1: Put the lemon zest in the gallon jar and fill it with half of each bottle of vodka. Put the jar in a dark corner and leave it to steep. I usually leave mine for 30 to 40 days. You can leave it for at little as 2 weeks but it just gets better and better as it matures.


Most recipes use 100 proof vodka only because limoncello is stored in your freezer and you do not want it to freeze.

The first year I made limoncello I used a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Well – I’m just spoiled after that. I’ve since tried a variety of less expensive vodkas. One year I bought a much lower priced vodka and ran the vodka thru a filter 8 times but even with all that filtering the limoncello came out with a slightly bitter edge.

untitledI find the 80 proof smoother so I mix them. The 100-proof vodka is basically acting as an anti-freeze – but what an anti-freeze!

The vodkas I am trying this year are Polar Ice and Burnett’s Vodka.

Steps 2 and 3 will be on the blog site on the first of December!


Bread, Drinks, Fish, Fruit, Pork, Travel

Sailing from Grenada to St. Vincent

6-May-08_101652-547x364The idea for this blog began with cooking on a sailboat.  My last trip was in May 2015. Here are some highlights of that trip.

Several girlfriends and I chartered a 42-foot sailboat out of True Blue Bay in Grenada and sailed up through the Grenadines to St. Vincent and back. It was a windy, sun drenched, wild ride among verdant islands.

We left our spouses at home, wanting to test our knowledge and skills as sailors. We laughed a lot and held our breath as the 30-knot winds (about 35 mph) from the East slid up the windward side of the volcanic spines of the islands, then rushed down the valleys to slam into our boat, Chinook. The wind roared around the tips of the islands creating a mishmash of wind, tide and current. At one point we took pictures of the speedometer as Chinook approached hull speed (the top speed for the boat) with the main double-reefed. Each reef in the sail depowers the sail to make it easier to control the boat in high winds. It was grand.

20151008-_MG_2444.CR2 Map of Grenada sailing trip-2444

The voyage of the Chinook – the first two weeks

My daughter and one of her best friends were on a big sailboat with me for the first time.  Their eyes got a little large as we occasionally heeled over with the side rail near the water and as we sailed up and over 10 ft swells. They were great crew and no one was sick!  Now, the true test is will they go with me again.

Chinook’s galley – a very small space!

With the winds (unusually high for that time of the year) staying between 20 and 30 knots for the first two weeks, it was almost impossible to use the grill. The galley (kitchen on a boat) stove had two burners, a small oven and a very good refrigerator – not always the case on a chartered boat. I had taken my bag of herbs and spices and Debbie, fabulous first mate, brought the sharp knives. Those, with a few favorite utensils that I carted along,  made up my travel supplies. The list will be in my next blog.

20151008-_MG_1571 Scones on Chinook -1571

Scones still hot from the oven with Mama’s local honey, nutmeg jelly and pepper jelly.

The crew ‘s special breakfast treat.

The second week, a very experienced sailor, Stephanie, joined us at St. Vincent and the two girls flew back home.  Debbie and I were thankful she joined us because we started hearing a strange thumping sound that she identified as the nut on the rudder about to fall off.  Although we had a good assortment of tools, nothing was big enough for this job.  We made an evacuation plan, putting the most essential items in three small dry bags (charts, compass, passports, money, credit cards, water, cell phones that worked everywhere, sun block …).  Our charter company directed us to Union Island for repairs which was a few hours sail.  Of course, a thunderstorm came up and pelted us with stinging drops as we came screaming into Clifton Harbor.  We waited until the storm had passed and moored.  Help came out immediately and fixed the boat.

Grenada is one of the “spice islands,” rich with nutmeg, bay, cinnamon and wonderful chocolate. I built my menus around fresh fish, great breads, luscious seasonal fruit and chocolate.  The Grenadian nutmeg chocolate is a special favorite of mine.  We made a nutmeg chocolate souffle with only three ingredient that is super easy.  The recipe is coming in a post soon.

20140516-IMG_5107 cacao pod.jpg-5107

photo by Guinevere Bell

Cacao pod: where chocolate comes from

Grenada and Bequia had the best stores for provisioning and had most of what we wanted. On Union Island we bought freshly caught tuna.

Before these trips I eagerly anticipate the surprises we find each time we charter in a new place. I never have any idea what I’ll find (or not be able to find), which is always the greatest challenge for the cook on the boat. What surprised me on this trip was a glorious variety of fruits, including mango, papaya, pineapple, pears and wonderful tomatoes!

The biggest culinary surprise was the bread: freshly made loaves on several islands and baguettes and croissants that were flaky and buttery on Bequia.

Not finding on Grenada the main ingredient for that quintessential summer drink, the Pimms Cup,  we had a treasure hunt for Pimms No. 1, a British gin-based liqueur, at every port of call. We finally discover a half bottle behind the bar at Lourdis on the island of Carriacou in Hamilton Bay. While there we also found that the jerk chicken at Lourdis will scald your mouth – but is delicious!

20150516-_IMG_0659 pimms bottle.jpg-0659

photo by Sebastian Duffell

THE BEST FOOD we had was in the Tobago Cays, a National Marine Park in the middle of the Grenadines. Most people call the Tobago Cays the jewels of the Grenadines. The Cays are three very small islands with miles of reefs and a turtle sanctuary, which makes this an excellent area for snorkeling and diving. The tiny pristine islands have white beaches, big lizards, and lots of birds. We saw scores of small brilliant reef fish, enough starfish to light the heavens, and rays and turtles of all sizes.

photo by Guinevere Bell

photo by Guinevere Bell

photo by Guinevere Bell

photo by Guinevere Bell

photo by Sebastian

photo by Sebastian Duffell


As we sailed into the narrow entrance to the cays, we were greeted by a floating concierge fleet, with men in small, brightly-colored motor boats offering mooring help, various provisions and “beach barbeques.” The men in the boats go by monikers. Our charter company had said to look for Romeo but we did not find him. Instead, Lady Luck was with us and Kojak offered us help mooring (by then, the wind had freshened and I wanted a mooring ball for one night). We accepted his help and his offer to have a lobster barbeque on the beach. This was the last day of the lobster season, we were not going to pass that up. The beach cooks share several large tents which cover grills. Regardless of who was cooking for you, you shared six or seven picnic tables. That day in May (which is low season), we were only one of four groups having dinner. I can’t imagine the pandemonium this place must be in during the high season with 30 or more boats moored and countless guys offering their wares and their help!



That evening was perfection, with the sun setting, the beach glistening white, the beer cold, the rum punch strong, and the smell of grilled lobster beyond enticing. Kojak and his wife prepared a feast to make your heart stop with buttery grilled lobster, fried plantain, rice and potatoes. The dessert, banana bread, was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was truly a dinner to match the magnificent scenery. They fixed dinner for us again on our return trip, but instead of lobster, we had fish and tender conch, which rivaled the lobster – and that’s saying a lot for conch!

The third week of our adventure my dear friend, chef and sailor Audrey and her son Sebastian, joined me.  As a young woman, Audrey had sailed across the Atlantic and lived on Palm Island, sailing charters for her father.  It’s a small world and many of the people she knew were still legends in the area.


Audrey’s tuna sashimi

The wind dropped to its normal range of 10 to 15 knots for this last leg of the journey.  With Audrey aboard we feasted every day. Look back at the picture of the galley.  Audrey would take one burner and I the other fixing sautéed vegetables and pan seared pork in a rum sauce.

THE MOST UNUSUAL FOOD we had was a mangrove oyster.


Mangrove oyster

In Tyrell Bay on Carriacou, the site of the customs office, a man called Warrior paddled a small rowboat up to our boat.


Most of what he had we did not need. Then he asked me if I’d ever tried mangrove oysters. I had never heard of them. Early the next morning he brought several dozen mangrove oysters for us to try. They are small briny bivalves with a tart buttery flavor.

THE BEST ISLAND for traipsing around and shopping on was Bequia, a funky island with a corniche for strolling that offers interesting art shops, a dive shop and several good restaurants. Just a short walk away from the water are artists’ galleries and workshops worth the walk.

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Doris’ is a great place for provisioning. It’s on a back street and is easy to miss. She offers many goods from the US and England, a good wine selection, interesting canned goods if you are homesick, as well as fruits, fresh vegetables and frozen foods in the back. I bought frozen chocolate croissants to surprise the crew for breakfast since the bakery was only open on Mondays during the slow season.

Grenada and the Grenadines are beautiful islands which are well worth the trip, whether you’re sailing there or just visiting. Recipes from some of our great meals will be coming soon.