Welcome Aboard – Smitten Kitten at St. Martin Simpson Bay.

Even though we arrived in St. Martin a few days early, our first night on the Smitten Kitten Catamaran was Saturday, the 16 of November.  One would think that it would be cold in November but the weather was a balmy 80F average during the day, the water around 83-85F, and the nights in the high 60’s to low 70’s.  Perfect for the snow dwellers or even for us desert dwellers from hot Arizona.

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The feature image of the Festiva Sailing trip was taken of Sandy Beach near Anguilla .  The aerial of St. Martin below is not my image.  Stop at this Official Website for St. Martin.  There you can learn a lot about the island and exciting events, activities, hotels, island life, etc.  St. Martin and the nearby islands have been one of our favorite vacation destinations and as you will see in future posts it’s evident why.

 

First rule of thumb, off with the shoes and you hardly see them the rest of the holiday.  Drop the minimal number of bags in your

Arial of St. Martin

cabin.  Don’t over pack as this is a 4 cabin Catamaran with limited storage.  All you need is swim suits, a few wraps, shorts, light tops, sunglasses and suntan lotion. For some of the gents a hat would be a very good idea to stop the burn on the top.

We were greeted by our hosts Jenny and Stuart with a splendid happy hour set up a waiting for our 5:00pm arrival on board with along with our good friends, Fred and Basia.  This was a special trip and adventure as Basia was celebrating one of her “big one” birthdays but we’re not telling which one.  Stuart greeted us with a traditional island cocktail; a Rum Punch with plenty of local rum.  Dinner was a Shrimp and Couscous dish with chopped fresh vegetables.  I hadn’t thought at this time of posting about the holiday, so I’ve only one picture to share from dinner and it’s just one small piece of Jenny’s Kiwi Cheesecake.

2013-11-24T07-00-30_8I’m hoping to get recipes from Jenny to share with you.

The Cheese Cake was a creamy no bake dish with slices of local fresh kiwi.  Melt in your mouth delicious.

I’ve got to get me some of these! A Facebook friend sent me the link and I think it’s a great gift idea. Please keep in mind that this post is not an sponsored advert for the company or product. It looked like a fun gift idea for anyone who has a love of cooking and that me in a nutshell. I’m putting it on my Christmas list.

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Designs – Tervis Insulated Tumblers – Mugs – Water Bottles – Gifts.

I hope they have an apron, too!

From along a highway near Chicago, Illinois this airplane was found nose down in a farm field. Maybe they were taking a little buzz around the airwaves and got to close to the electric lines.  Looks like it’s been in its resting place for quite some time.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be the passenger in the back!  Well, or in the front either from the looks of it!  Bet the pilot got one good bop on his noggin.

Rough Landing
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Nose Dive

These two pictures were taken at my cousins, Marks, home in Lowelville Ohio.  He has the perfect green touch when it comes growing flowers and roses.  On each visit there are a variety of pictures to be taken of bees buzzing around the garden and wildlife roaming the back pasture.

He’s since started beehives but I’ve yet to gather the courage to take a look at those.  Next time.

Kissing the Lilac
Kissing the Lilac
Kissing the Nectar
A Touch of Nectar

I love everything about Tuscany and this soup is a great reminder.  I found it on the Saveur Recipe website.  It has such a hearty appeal so I couldn’t resist to share it with all.

Maybe it was the crunchy bit of bread to the side or the bits of tomato and carrot popping up to the surface.  Can’t wait to give it a try.  If you beat me to it, let me know what you think.

Image by André Baranowski

2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
1⁄2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic (3 minced, 1 halved)
10 oz. squash, such as butternut, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes(about 2 cups)
4 large kale leaves, preferably
 lacinato or cavalo nero, stemmed and chopped
1 medium waxy-style potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crushed fennel seeds
8 thick slices country-style bread

1. Drain beans and transfer to a 3-qt. saucepan along with half the carrots, the celery, the onions, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 40–45 minutes. Set 3⁄4 cup beans aside; transfer the remaining beans and their cooking liquid to a blender and purée. Set puréed beans aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 5-qt. pot over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add reserved bean purée, along with the remaining carrots, the squash, kale, potato, and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the crushed fennel seeds and reserved whole beans. Meanwhile, toast the bread and rub it with the cut end of the halved garlic clove. Drizzle each toast with 1 tbsp. oil. To serve, place 1 to 2 pieces toasted bread in the bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle soup with remaining oil.

Credits:  Author Nancy Harmon Jenkins uses olive oil three ways in this version of the venerable Italian soup: for sautéing garlic, rubbing on the toasts that accompany the dish, and finishing the soup.

This was one of my first and most challenging jobs for a customer.  Not that there have been that many!  I was and still am a starving artist.   Two images of deer sculls were selected from online stock photos and purchased from different sites.  The customer wanted them to hang side-by-side on the wall in their entry in an Arizona home. The greatest challenge was that one of the original images was so small that when increased in size to a 24×36 final size there was so much work to be done.  Each antler and the skull had so much pixilating going on that the Photoshop Magic Eraser was almost worn out.  Then the Photoshop Burn was used to redefine the antlers where they lost their definition.

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With this above image the brown wooden surface behind the scull had to be removed, pixel by pixel. They also wanted the white background removed and replaced with a blood red background.  That involved also replacing the brown from the nose with the vibrant red.

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This image original size was 19×28 so it was less difficult to size it up to a 24×36. The skull itself was resized so that it matched the overall size of the white skull and horns.  The was some work to fix any pixilation that had occurred but not nearly as much as the white skull.  On both, the black border was added for a more dramatic finish.

To view these images in full size with no obligation to purchase click on the SmugMug logo below:
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This is a much enjoyed appetizer that can be made a variety of ways.  My friend, Mariette, uses a much sharper cheese and it’s just a delicious.  It just has a different twist.  Many recipes include spinach, but somehow, someway, I’ve not acquired a taste for spinach in large doses.  Another fun addition is sun dried tomatoes but if doing that do so in small doses too.  For a sharper more flavorful taste use Asiago Cheese, Gruyere Cheese or an Italian blend.

Artichoke dip is one of my regulars to take to take to a Pot Luck dinner. It’s a warm dish served with crackers, toasted baguette slices or tortilla chips. Or, if you have left overs or prefer a cold dish it makes a great tapenade for crackers, toasted bread, etc. I often used my left overs from a party for a Happy Hour cold dish appetizer the following day.

This recipe calls for only 1 1/2 cups of artichoke hearts but if you’re feeling a little frivolous you can always go with more.  Depending on the size of the group and how far I want it to go, I would opt for more chopped hearts.  If I were downsizing to a smaller group then there would still be as much artichoke and then less mayo and half-and-half to make it a thicker richer tapenade.  Feel free to experiment.  I always do.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Artichoke hearts; quartered and then chopped 1/4 cup Half-and-half cream
1 cup Mozzarella; shredded 1/2 teaspoon Salt; to taste
1 cup Parmesan cheese; shredded 1/4 cup Baby spinach; shopped; optional; I never add
1 cup Mayonnaise

Artichoke Dip Appetizer or Tapenade Preparation

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Quarter and then chop into bits
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Mixed up creamy texture ready for the hot oven

Take 32 ounce jar of whole artichoke; Dry weight is 19.5 ounces. Drain of all liquid. If the artichoke has been marinated in olive oil then rinse under running water until all or most of the oil has been removed. Chop the artichoke until diced or slightly larger size. I find it easier to quarter the artichoke heart and then cut those pieces into thirds with the cut side facing up.

Place in 2 quart baking dish. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to add cream or mayonnaise until easily mixed but with not too much liquid.  If you want it more firm add less mayo.

Bake in 350 degree oven for around 20-30 minutes, remixing occasionally so that it heats evenly throughout. Remove when cheese begins to toast slightly on the top layer.

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Ready and hot from the oven

Serve with crackers, French baguette (sliced and toasted) or corn tortilla chips.

French Baguette:

Slice French Baguette. Place on baking sheet. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with slight layer of garlic salt. Sprinkle with slight layer of Italian spice. Place under hot broiler until lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately with spread.

If taking to a party to serve later then remove from baking sheet and let cool on cookie rack. Place warm artichoke dip in crockpot and reheat on low to serve after you arrive at the party.

If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.