Sunday, January 31, 2016

Last of Carribean Cruise

This is a photo of the sea walk that jets out over the ship and has a glass bottom for viewing the ocean below.


On our last day we finally made it to tea in the dining room. They came around with trays of scones (wiuth shipped cream & jam), pastries, cookies, and small sandwiches.

You can tell the cruise is coming to an end when luggage starts to appear in the hallway. You have to give your luggage up the night before. Travel tip - bring a bag you can pack your last night's clothes, jammies, & toiletries in because you have to give up your bags.

The last night there was a mardi Gras party in the atrium. There was an opera singer with a beautiful voice too.

My selfie showing sun burn from sitting in the Jacuzzi. It was overcast so I didn't feel it burning. And, after that, I spent an hour on the balcony in the sun watching the US Coast evacuate a passenger off our ship using a basket that comes down from the H60 helicopter. It was amazing.

This is a light fixture.

We had a great time. We went to a comedy show, a broadway-like musical dance number, we watched movies under the stars twice, napped, read, listed to music, ate, watched the "street" performers in the piazza. It was a very enjoyable vacation. Cruises are the easiest vacations in my book.

More Carribean Cruise

Our third, and last, stop was St. Maarten in the Virgin Islands. The island is half Dutch, half French.

There were 5 cruise ships at the port while we were there.

Always the bird watcher. King bird.

The homes, especially in the older part of town, were very colorful.

More cemeteries!

The photo doesn't represent the colors of the Caribbean very well because it was raining off and on.

I was shocked to see desert like foliage. We also saw these huge orange iguanas but I didn't get a photo.


This is the point where the island changes from Dutch to French. o travel issues - it's all the Eurozone.

Seems almost everywhere we go there is a fort. Ft. St Louis on the French side.

The waterfront, French side, taken from the Marina - you can see the fort up on the hill.

There was a straw market set up down by the waterfront but they were packing up when we got there. Weather perhaps? I saw this central area with a gazebo, arena seating and a painted compass.

Photo of the bay from the marina area.

The last two days were spent at sea and included our anniversary (Jan 15th). We woke up to find our door decorated.

My hubby got me roses and a card and the cruise folks gave us a card as well.

I ordered a special balcony breakfast for us. It included a hot meal of bacon, quiche (best I have ever had), baked tomato, and veggie strips.

It also included coffee, juice, and champagne as well as a plate of smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, and bagels.

And finally, the pastry plate. It we could have ordered it for one, which you can't, it would have been enough for both of us.

Our view as we ate our special breakfast. We had another day of spa services as well.






Saturday, January 30, 2016

Carribean Cruise Jan 2016

Jerry and I went on a cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We drove to Ft. Lauderdale and boarded the Regal Princess - yes, it is the same ship we took on our October cruise to Canada and new England. It took the entire week to figure out the ship so I didn't want to waste that knowledge! We've already booked our anniversary cruise for next January and, yes, it is on the Regal Princess again ;-)

 Our mini suite came with a champagne welcome
 Leaving Ft. Lauderdale. The folks on the beach, houses, and high rises were waiving and holding up signs. I thought a big ship would be annoying to it's neighbors but they seemed happy to send us off.
 A picture of the tenders and lifeboats from our balcony
I ordered chocolate covered strawberries to go with out champagne and for a private sail away instead of going to the Lido for the party.
 Our first stop was Princess Cays - a private beach leased by the cruise line on the island of Eleutrea in the Bahamas.
 The Regal Princess
 We hung out on the beach waiting for our excursion time

We went on a glass bottom boat ride

A picture of the coral reef that we were viewing from the boat
 The next was at sea so we spent some of it at the spa and getting ready for the first formal night.

 Jerry as we entered St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Travel tip - raveling there is easy because English is spoken and the currency is the US dollar.
 The US bought the island from the Dutch
 OK, so they bury one person in the ground and then other family members on top. A genealogist's dream!
My best attempt at a street shot
 Iguanas were living in the rocks and not that easy to spot
 We went up to Mountain Top where the view was awesome. It is also the birthplace of the banana daiquiri, which we did not try. I wished we had time to stop at the botanical gardens we passed.

So, that's part one of our vaca!



Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year Eve

Since this is our second year,  I guess Jerry and I have started a NY Eve tradition of cooking lobster and a porterhouse dinner at home. Last year it was due to leftover seafood from the Feast of Seven Fishes that I fixed on Christmas Eve (lobster) and a need for something other than fish (Porterhouse). We remembered it as so special and delicious we did it again.


We started with lobster tails broiled with garlic butter and paprika - that's it.. I worked on Thursday so I didn't want any stress of preparing several dishes and making them all come out at once. Plus, we wanted to savor each one so we ate in courses with a short break between each one. It was wonderful and I highly recommend it when you are cooking "special" dishes that you don't have everyday.

 
This porterhouse recipe I have seems at odds with everything you have ever heard of in terms of cooking steak yet it is fabulous! It is best if you are a medium rare person but it will also work for medium and rare. Probably not so good for those who like on the well side.

I got it from Bobby Flay who got it from Peter Lugers steakhouse in Brooklyn. You need a 1.5 - 2" porterhouse. I've made it 3 times in the last year and I believe the Greenwise brand steaks from Publix are the absolute best for this.
  1. It's best to work with room temperature meat so it cooks more evenly. Take your steak out of the fridge 3 hours before you cook it (I didn't have that option this time so the end piece of a little more done than the other pieces.)
  2. Also, pull some butter from the fridge to bring to room temp.
  3. Put a cast iron pan on a medium high burner while you are preparing the meat.
  4. Generously salt the steak. Now I am not a salt lover and this was hard for me but you have to remember this is a very thick steak so do not be conservative. This is the only seasoning you will use so listen to Bobby & Peter, lol!
  5. Throw a little netral oil into the pan to see that it is ready and then add the steak. DO NOT TOUCH IT FOR 4 MINUTES. That's right, ignore your urge to check it, move it, flip it, etc. Leave it alone.
  6. At the end of the 4 minutes remove the steak and place it on a cutting board with the cooked side up. It will have a wonderful crust.
  7. Start your broiler - you will need it in a couple of minutes.
  8. OK, this is weird but cut the meat from the bone. Yup, cut the meat off. You will have two pieces - the strip side and the filet side.
  9. Once they are removed, return the bone to the hot pan with the browned side up.
  10. Now cut the two pieces of steak horizontally - basically you are creating strips of meat. Don't disassemble it when you do this. Just slice it but don't move it.
  11. Next, return the slice steak back to the pan to its original positions. with the crust side up, yup crust side up. (See the photo above).
  12. Now you will top it with pads of room temperature butter.
  13. Place the steak under the broiler for about 3 - 5 minutes depending on how close the meat is to the heat source, how thick your steak is, and how you like it. Because it is sliced you can peek to see it's status.
  14. When you take it out of the oven, spoon the melted butter over the steak before serving.
  15. That's it! super simple, fast, and the best porterhouse I have ever tasted!

 
 
I was having trouble ordering these photos without messing up my formatting but we actually had the asparagus as a second course. I used some of the garlic butter from the lobster and some parmesan cheese to dress it. We ate it with some crusty bread - simple & delicious!

Christmas/Birthday with Erica and Sarah

My cousin Erica and her daughter Sarah came over this week to bring us Christmas and my birthday goodies. I had a little something for them as well and it included a gift basket that I made for Sarah. I've never made a gift basket for Christmas before but I believe it turned out well.


 
The gift basket included two little boxes, one with jewelry and one with an ornament with her name on it, a big jar of jelly bellies, and a wax warmer with two money tarts. Sarah left here believing that her jar of Jelly Bellies contains some of the gross ones from the Bean Boozled line, lol. We plugged in her warmer while she was here and melted her tart - she got $6!

 

Sarah and Erica brought over these fabulous chocolates and macaroons from William Dean - a local gourmet chocolatier where everything is made by hand. Aren't the chocolates beautiful? Apparently they were featured in two of the Hunger Game films. The couple I have tried are as delicious as they are beautiful.



Looking Around

Jerry and I spent yesterday north of our area - specifically, Inverness. Just a thought that perhaps we might enjoy an after-retirement home...