Friday, February 27, 2015

Spotting the Space Station

Monday night we went to Big Pine Key to the No Name Pub for Pizza.  We were also on a mission to see the Space Station as it passed overhead.  Pulling off the road and jumping out of the car like we were playing Chinese Fire Drill, we spotted it and watched for about 2 minutes.  It is visible several days this week.  Visit Spot the Station to find out if it is visible in your area.  

The International Space Station is a spacecraft which is also a science lab.  Astronauts live on this station which many countries collaborated on in order to build.  These countries also work together to maintain and to use the craft.  Its orbit is about 220 miles above the Earth.  The station was first launched in 1998, with pieces being added year after year.  In 2000, the station was suitable for people to live on board. 

Weighing almost a million pounds, it has two bathrooms, five bedrooms and a gym.  It can accommodate six people.  It is as large as a football field and has labs from Japan, Russia, Europe and The United States.  

Photo  by NASA

We plan to look into the skies again on Wednesday evening when it should be visible for about 6 minutes.  It is very bright and moves very quickly through the sky.  Hoping we have clear skies.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Speaking of books... and authors...

Marathon Marina hosted a book signing for Susan Bacoyanis, author of There Are No Accidents.  I missed the book signing, but I was available to attend a question and answer session under the Tiki Hut where I had the opportunity to meet Susan.  Susan was born in England and has a most lovely English accent to which one can listen for hours.  There Are No Accidents is a psychological thriller through which themes of abuse, addictions, and feminine resolve are intertwined with the plot.  

The book is a series of three short stories which are linked together through interesting circumstances.  There are twists and turns and surprises throughout the series which are sometimes wickedly humorous.  Susan is affiliated with the non profit organization Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys.  A portion of the profits from the sale of her books helps to support this organization.   

We had a great discussion about her writing style and methods as well as domestic abuse and addictions.   Susan's books may be purchased at Amazon.  


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Books for the Bahamas

In Key West we passed by an antique store with large boxes of used books for sale on the sidewalk. I bought Four in anticipation of our long trip to the Exumas. 

 Angela on Ocean Maid and Faye on Paula Faye suggested the following books:
Fall of Marigolds
 Team of Rivals
Unlikely Pilgrimage
Me & Lee
Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night
Edge of Eternity
Orphan Train
A Vintage Affair
Daring Ladies of Lowell
Fall of Giants
All the Light we Cannot See
Boys in the Boat
The Invention of Wings
The Gold Finch
The Luminaries
Montana SKy
Anything by Ken Follett
Kitchen House
Life of Pi
Expecting Adam
Franklin and Eleanor
Light Between the Oceans
The Cailiffs of Baghdad Georgia
Last Train to Paradise

Any other suggestions are welcomed--I have not purchased any of the above yet--but plan to get on over to Amazon and download some in the next few days.  


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bahamas Bound

Back to the Bahamas
It is that time again--time to go to the Bahamas!  We went in April and May of 2013 and are getting ready to return in just a few days. On our first trip we headed to Bimini from Fort Lauderdale.  We traveled from Bimini, to Cat Cay and on to Chub Cay in the Berry Islands where we explored the Berry Islands up to Great HArbor for about 8 days.  We left the Berry Islands to explor the ABaco islands for around 7 weeks before returning to the states.  

Our tentative plans for this trip are to leave sometime between March 2 and March 8.  Once we find a window of good weather and good winds to cross the Gulf Stream, we will head to Rodriquez Island outside of Key Largo, where we will anchor for the night before crossing to Bimini.   After arriving in Bimini, where we will stay at a marina and check in to customs, we may stay a few days to explore this Island.  Leaving Bimini we will make our way to Nassau by going to Cat Cay and/or Chubb Cay for a night or two before making passage to Nassau.  

In Nassau, we would like to stay at the Atlantis Marina on Paradise Island and wait for the arrival of our youngest daughter, Lainey.  Lainey will be on spring break from March 13 to through March 22.  After a night or two in Atlantis, we will head for the Exuma Islands.  The Exumas are a chain of islands/cays about 130 miles long.  The north end of the Exumas is at  Allan's.  The southern most island is Little Exuma which is just below Great Exuma, the largest of all the 360 small cays at 37 miles in length.   Georgetown on Great Exuma is the largest town in the Exumas.  

We plan to visit the Exumas National Land and Sea Park for several Days.  We also want to make it to Staniel Cay to see the swimming pigs.  

Looks like fun!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Very Best French Toast of All Time

Little Palm Island serves a unique french toast for brunch. It is the very best french toast I have ever tasted.  Faye decided that the bread was a brioche.  I figured it was coated in crushed cornflakes and we could both see the chopped hazelnuts on top.  After requesting the recipe multiple times and having that request denied, I went on an internet search and found two recipes for this delicious breakfast treat. Below is the picture of the French Toast at Little Palm.

Saveur (Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine) has a recipe that seems most like the one we tasted.  The Saveur recipe is based on the french toast served at the Lafayette restaurant at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington D.C.which is a cornflake crusted  focaccia french toast with warm pear compote and caramel sauce. 

Photo Credit:Penny De Los Santos
The recipe from Saveur which serves 4 is as follows:

1 loaf brioche bread (about 1 lb.)
⅓ cup half and half
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. fine salt
¼ tsp. orange zest
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
Confectioners' sugar
Maple syrup

1. Slice brioche loaf into eight 1"-thick slices with a serrated knife. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut each slice into a circle and set aside.
2. In a shallow dish, whisk together half and half, sugar, cinnamon, salt, orange zest, and eggs. Put cornflakes into another shallow dish. Working with 1 circle of brioche at a time, dip in the egg mixture, allowing brioche to soak for 10 seconds on each side, then coat in the cornflakes. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper.

3. Heat 3 tbsp. of the butter in a 10" nonstick skillet over medium heat until just foaming. Transfer 4 slices of brioche to the pan and cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Divide the french toast between 2 serving plates. Wipe out skillet, add remaining butter, and repeat process. Dust the french toast with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with maple syrup. 

Add some chopped  hazelnuts to this recipe and I think we would have a match to the Little Palm Island Recipe.  I discovered another recipe at Coach & Counselor that is worthy of mention as well because it uses peanut butter.   Click here to see a similar recipe with a peanut butter sauce--yum yum.

We don't have any brioche or focaccia on board or I would be making this treat this morning...sorry Steve, it's an instant breakfast and peanut butter toast kind of day.  



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Little Palm Island Brunch

Our party of eight was shown our table  surrounded with view of several tropical plants in which birds were nesting and chirping happily.  There was a roof over our heads, but no walls in this Caribbean style dining room.   We could see the ocean from our table as well as feel the chilly breeze.


After giving our drink orders, we were encouraged to help ourselves to the  food on at the  buffet tables in the main dining room. 

The cold station was filled with many salads and  huge boiled shrimp as well as raw oysters. We sampled chicken salad, tuna salad, pozole and gnocchi salads.   There  were bagels with cream cheese and lox. The bread station had numerous pastries, breads,  jalapeno cornbread and cheeses from which to choose.  Blackberries, blue berries and strawberries were available in small sized colanders. A sushi bar complete with chopsticks with soy sauce and wasabi offered both the Boston Roll and the California Roll. A bar was set up to "make your own" Bloody Mary or Mimosa.  

We also tried many items from the Hot Menu.  We were told by the staff that  many of these items were small portions, but we were invited to order as many as we wished. Potato leek soup with crispy bacon arrived in a small dish as did the Wild Mushroom Ravioli.  Several of us ordered The Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon and chives with Hollandaise and the French Toast with Frangelico Maple Toasted Hazelnuts and Powdered Sugar.  

The French Toast was my favorite indulgence of the day.(Or was it the mimosa with peach puree?) It was so good that I asked the waiter for the recipe.  Not once, not Twice, but three times I was assured I would receive the recipe.  Didn't happen--but I am resourceful--more on that in another post--stay tuned.

We also tried sauteed Shrimp in a Guava BBQ Glaze, Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Tomato Couscous and Pan Seared Swordfish --all cooked to perfection.  Just when we thought we could not eat anymore,  dessert plates with several different items for two were delivered to our table to share.  

                                           Chocolate Covered Biscotti , Key Lime Pie
                             Tres Leche Cake with Chocolate Heart, & Fruit Tart

After desserts and a round of coffee we finally got up from the table to walk around a bit before boarding the boat and heading back to Marathon. 

Too stuffed to write anymore today...