Saturday, December 31, 2016

LAW 114: End of the Year, Early Morning Thoughts

New Year's Eve, and one of the most often repeated memes on Facebook is about staying up until midnight this year, just to make sure 2016 really does die. I can sympathize with the feeling, but most surely will not be awake at midnight. I am an early morning riser, even now in the dead of winter i am often up, if not before the sun, with it. I've gotten some beautiful pictures that way.

last sunrise through the stern window

One of the very best things about living on the water, in my mind, is the quiet time i spend every morning with my first cup of coffee watching the light change on the water and shore line.
Last sunrise of 2016 from front deck

In spring and summer it is the verdant greens of the trees filling the air with growth. In the fall, the vibrant colors of change fill my eyes, and in winter the stark beauty of bare tree limbs outlined against a cold gray sky fill my heart with hope that the cycle will, inevitably, turn again.
Fog on the river

Summer hike 2016

fall 2016

Until next year, when we will assuredly meet again i hope that you, those you hold dear, and the entire world experience peace, joy, and love in your lives.

Duck tracks off the stern in ice and snow from our first winter

More later,

Oh ya, what's a blog post with out a cat picture? Happy New Year from Magellan, ship's cat extraordinaire, as well as awesome personal embroidery assistant. The proof is in the picture.

He's so much help!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

LAW 113: Wishing You a Wonderful Christmas Eve, and Why I Love Cabbage, Stuffed.

The above sentiment may sound odd in its juxtaposition, but trust me, it works. The last night before serious eating and celebration starts seems a fitting time to have a very hearty, healthy and homey sort of dish and tonight's meal fits all the above in spades. The origin of this dish is German, i first came across it many, many, many years ago in my first copy of The Joy of Cooking. I don't even know the actual name, and no longer have a copy of Joy, but i have cooked it faithfully for decades. One of the things that appealed to me the most when i first read the recipe was the multiple variations already listed for me.
Assembling the dumpling

Yes, this one is a little bit more work than the average weeknight one pot meal, but...... it is worth it.
So the basics are, cabbage, duh! Preferably a whole head, but hey, use what you've got, i had a large half left from the night before. A protein of some ilk, usually ground pork, or beef, or turkey, or......
a starch, recommendations from the original recipe include, split peas, rice, bread crumbs, pretty much anything you can think of. Over the years i have modified the recipe to be more "Paleo" friendly by cutting the amount of meat in half and substituting diced mushrooms for the missing meat. Last night i added a minced shallot, because i had some. I used a mixture of ground fennel, black pepper and coriander seeds that i had at hand for seasoning, and added some caraway seeds just because it was cabbage, and a touch of thyme. Mix all these ingredients together, last night i used leftover biscuits that i had made for breakfast and set aside.
Putting the cap on the cabbage

Bundle it up nice and warm!

Bring a large pot of water to boil,  you are going to be dipping the hunk of cabbage you have into the boiling water to loosen individual leaves of cabbage. Make sure you completely cut out the core so it separates easily.
Ready for a little hot water bath

Next you need to line a bowl with a clean cotton towel and line the towel with a couple of layers of overlapping cabbage leaves, make sure you build it all the way up the sides. In goes your filling. Gently moosh it around so it fills the entire cavity and smooth of the top. Finish it all off by layering a cap on the cabbage. Gently gather up the ends of the towel and bring them together. Using either string or a large rubber band secure the ends. Don't get it too tight as the dumpling will expand as it cooks. Into the pot it goes, cover it with water bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least 30 minutes, maybe as much as 45. This depends mainly on what starch you used. Peas of course will take the longest.
I know, it looks like a lot of onions, but trust me.

Just a touch of nutmeg.

While you are waiting for the dumpling to cook, slice up 2 or 3 onions and saute them in a mix of butter and olive oil. You do not want to caramelize them, just cook them until tender. toss in some chopped garlic, make a roux and add the stock of your choice, maybe a little white wine, stirring until you get a nice creamy, aromatic sauce. Season to taste with a little black pepper. I usually add a touch of fresh grated nutmeg.
Careful, it is very hot!

Too hot to touch!

Carefully fish the dumpling out of the simmering water bath, drain, unwrap and serve. I usually cut this into quarters. Technically it will serve four people. Yup, that's right. Enjoy.

Make sure to divide it evenly.

Yum, yum, and the plate is from Clay Lick Studio

More later,
Morgainne, aka Gail

PS, Bizarre but true, Magellan has developed a taste for good Italian white wine. Hmm.

Friday, December 16, 2016

LAW 112: December Update

Good morning, yes the first thing i must say is it is oh so cold here on the river. We woke up to a thin scrim of ice on the water. Brrrrrrrr!!!!! Ah, but that was not meant to be my topic of the day. Rather i thought i would talk about making art and progress.

With the weather turned cold most of the boats are out of the water. We rarely see anyone other than the or neighbors, there are about five full time live aboard boats here, and of course the Marina owners and workers. For everyone here it is a time of turning in, of introspection. A time to light the candles early and finish all those projects that summer playtime interfered with.

I have finished the letters of my NorthWindsABCdarium. I am still contemplating just exactly what i am going to do with the covers. Specifically how the book title is going to be applied, the covers themselves are done. I'm torn between a clean looking collaged text and illustrating them after the fashion of the individual letters. Still thinking there.

The last letter!

I finally pulled out my UpTown/DownTown book project, determined to finish it of. I had been very close to finishing it when i put it away(longer ago than i care to admit). After a couple of days of work i have finished the last collage elements and, once more only have to do the covers and some tidying up.
Black and White side of UpTown/DownTown

I have to admit that i really like working with the accordion format, although as you can see it can pose a problem for documentation. UpTown/DownTown is the first shaped accordion book i've done. The individual panels can measure as much as 6" tall and are 3" wide, with one panel extended to 8". I do not remember what the original paper size was, but i cut at least three accordions to give the impression of a sky line. There are 19 individual two sided panels, so the extended length would be 57". I'll have to figure out how to create a panorama shot so you can see the entire thing.
Color side of UpTown/DownTown

I've been spending as much time as my fingers will take working on my firebird embroidery piece. I just finished the 6th feather in the tail this morning, which means, yea! i am half done with that part.
Firebird progress shot

Soon the longest night will be past and we will be experiencing the return of the light, and warmth. The wheel always turns. Sometimes it feels more slowly than others.

detail of the tail feathers

Enjoy the season of celebration. Be good to each other.

More later,
Morgainne, aka gail