My photo
, Wyoming
Thanks for visiting Sauce du Jour. Feel free to share a great recipe, leave a comment, or make me dinner. I'll bring hors d' oeuvres and the wine! To visit my website go to Thanks for visiting the Sauce ~Tammi

Dec 31, 2010

What I Know For Sure About Mooring

This is Part One of Who Knows How Many of “Really Important Things I’ve Learned While Living on a Boat.”
     Let’s talk about mooring, since it is appears to be a really big deal in boating circles. It involves The Big Guy driving the boat up super close to a little floaty ball, which I am supposed to lean over and catch with a hook that is attached to an expensive pole that can be anywhere from 3 feet to 30 feet long. Big pointed out that since this pole is aluminum, it is breakable, so to be careful when I laid it down. I think what he meant to say, was to be careful when I dropped it. Not taking any chances of falling overboard I stretched the sucker out to the full 30 feet, which meant I could barely point it at the mooring ball, which I had previously been instructed that I was supposed to do, as we were approaching it. Get this; not only was I to point the stick at the ball, but I was to use certain hand signals that told Big how close we were to it. None of those hand signals were supposed to include the middle finger. Mooring ball etiquette, I guess. Yeah right. By the way, he was doing the hard work of steering the boat.
     Well, and I shit you not, I hooked that ball on the first attempt. Beginners luck? I think not; I hooked it again on the second attempt, which by the way, was only minutes after my first attempt. Ditto on my third and fourth. I should mention that while I have no natural talent for actually pulling the fat, soaking wet rope out of the water, I am quite gifted at hooking it. Come to think of it, I may have even been born to hook a mooring ball!
     This is where it gets tricky, because it is not easy to carefully lay down a 30 foot aluminum pole when about 100 pounds of slimy rope is hanging off the end of it. It is much more efficient to just drop it and tune out any swear words that may be coming from the helm station where, did I mention, The Big Guy is busy steering the boat.
 Here are a few other things I’ve learned regarding mooring:
. It is probably best to not be wearing a really cute sun dress while leaning over the front of a catamaran trying to hook a mooring ball
. You will break a nail
. Skidding across the trampoline on your knees will leave a mark, and
. No matter how you tie up the mooring line, the guy steering the boat will re-tie it.
After all that hard work, I slacked and made us something easy for dinner; mushroom-swiss burgers, roasted potates with chives and truffle salt and fresh green beans with grape tomatos.   No recipe required.  I'll post one next time! 

Dec 22, 2010

Dream Big or Stay Home

So what do you do when your dream finally comes to fruition? I’ll tell you, but first let me back up about two decades.
     It was sometime in the early 1990’s when The Big Guy and I started on a visionary path that would lead us to December 2010. I even kind of remember the day, when out of the blue (because that’s how I pretty much roll), I came up with the crazy idea that we should someday buy a boat and start a vacation yacht charter business. Big didn’t immediately get on board. He gave me that look. You know the one—the one that says are you smoking crack?  So I put down the pipe and started feeding him the idea a little at time. I peppered it in with how we loved the Caribbean, reggae, rum punch, and scuba diving; not to mention the fact that we knew how to throw a damn good party. It was a no brainer in my book. Big eventually took the bait so I reeled him right on in.
     A few months later we began what has been an obsession with yachts, islands and duty free shopping. We went to Florida once or twice a year to the yacht shows and we hob-nobbed with mega yacht owners, like we actually had the money to buy one, when truthfully, in the 90’s we could have barely afforded to fill up the fuel tank. Yet we kept our nose to the grindstone and our eye on the prize.
     We spent the next ten years or so doing what I like to call, for tax purposes, "reseach". We traveled to the Caribbean every chance we got, took sailing lessons, went on couple of yacht charter vacations, drank some Painkillers and yes, bought a lot of duty free jewelry. We never missed an opportunity to bore our friends with our incessant plans to one day own our own boat. Had this been a poker tournament we were all in!
     Then one day the wind was let out of my sails when a friend said to me that she believed that we would never really buy a boat; that we just liked talking about it. Her prediction briefly rocked my little dream world because it had never before occurred to me that we wouldn’t someday, somehow, make this happen. It got me to thinking though, could she be right? Was this always just going to be something that we talked about and never did? The answer to that question was that it didn’t matter if we ever bought a boat or not. What mattered was that for 15+ years (or more than half of our married life), we shared a dream, and together we believed we were on course for it.  At night we lay awake and talked about it; together we looked at boats and made friends with yacht owners and brokers. In our minds we were always perusing it.
     So back to my original question...what do you do when your dream finally comes to fruition?  Well, in my case, I grab my swimming suit, sunglasses, Elvis, and straw hat and head to the islands. There is a rum punch with my name on itthe sun is going down and The Big Guy is already there waiting for me. I can see him now, he is sitting on the back ouf our boat, tying a bow on a dream. 

 Having a dream is just as important 
as fulfilling a dream.
Come on down to the British Virgin Islands for some fun, sun, sailing, diving and boat drinks! Book your trip now and we'll give you the Friends & Family discount, PLUS we'll waive the nuisance tax!  You're all invited...what are you waiting for?
(12/22 ~ ♥ Happy 32nd anniversary, honey! ♥ Thanx for making it happen! ♥ Put some champagne on ice, I'll see you soon.♥)

Dec 15, 2010

The Dumplin Eater's Spoon

I see my great grandmother’s hands.  She wears a gold band on her ring finger.  It’s loose and worn thin, having been on that finger for almost 70 years, even though her husband has been dead for nearly 60 of them.  Her skin is paper thin, with blue veins bulging at the surface.  Brittle nails with white ridges running vertically, are filed to a point.  There is no dirt underneath.  She stands over a pan—a knee is bent to compensate for the pain in a previously broken hip.  Her hand is wrapped around the handle of a long wooden spoon and she stirs, non stop, for hours.  The aroma of apple and cinnamon, and maybe cloves, fill the small kitchen, as piles of apple peels and cores fill newspapers that cover a kitchen table.  She is making apple butter.
     I see my grandmother’s hands.  Plump fingers, with sheer pink colored nails and no jewelry, save for a wedding ring that looks to be two sizes to small and seems to be permanently embedded into her ring finger.  Her husband has been dead longer than I’ve been alive.  She stands over a stove, her ankles are thick and her legs sturdy.  This woman can walk five miles in one afternoon, carrying two brown paper bags loaded with groceries, and never tire.  What she can’t do is put more than three ingredients together.  She drags an old wooden spoon through a pan of macaroni.  No cheese, just ketchup is stirred in.
Chicken & Dumplins
My mom's recipe
     I see my mother’s hands.  Inherited, strong and busy hands—hands with short fingers and even shorter finger nails—hands that wear too many chunky turquoise rings and not enough sunscreen.  They are hardworking, but soft and soothing, all at the same time.  One hand wraps around an old wooden spoon, as it stirs Koolaid and berries into a something that will become jelly.  Then later in the day it mixes flour and water, just to please a granddaughter with an insatiable appetite for chicken and dumplins.
     I see my own hands.  Diamond rings mark anniversaries, making me look privileged; chipped nails, dry cuticles and cuts from dull knives tell the truth.  An old wooden spoon goes around a pan of polenta, couscous or that the women who held this same spoon before me, have never heard of, much less stirred.  Food that the chicken and dumplin eater won’t touch.
     This old wooden spoon once belonged to my great grandmother and I can't picture one without the other.  They are both family.  It’s worn down to a nub from more than 5 decades of stirring.  After my mom died I thought that my dad had the spoon, in fact I was certain that I had used it many times while cooking for him, when I was at his house.  The day after he died I cleaned out his kitchen, never once giving the spoon a thought.  Most of his utensils where yellowed plastic or old metal, with a little bit of rust thrown in.  I boxed them all up to give away.
     Weeks later I thought about the spoon and cussed myself for not remembering to keep it.  Was it in the box with the jumble of whisks, spatulas and wooden spoons, that had been given to Goodwill by my sister?  I asked her about it but she had no recollection of any specific item, just to say that there were a lot of wooden spoons and other utensils in the box.  This one was different I told her, and I described it to her; long round handle, spoon part worn down, lopsided. She had no idea.
     A few months passed and my sister came for a visit so that we could sort through a bunch of our parent’s belongings, which I had been storing.  As we sorted through the tubs I again mentioned the spoon, saying that I had wanted that spoon and that I couldn't believe that I had tossed it out while cleaning Dad's kitchen.  I told her my memories of our grandmothers’ and our mother, cooking with it.  While rambling on I stuck my hand in a tub of miscellaneous junk and wrapped my fingers around whatever they touched and pulled out that very spoon!  It should be noted here, that my mom has been gone since 2001 and I have sorted through those tubs at least 3 or 4 times over the past 9 years.  Also in those 9 years I have cooked countless dinners for my dad and I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that the spoon was at his house, and that I had used it many times.  As I held it up, my sister and I stood there, our mouths hanging open, wide enough to catch flies and starring at each other in disbelief, as if the good Lord himself had just handed the spoon to me.
     The spoon was going around a pan of risotto the other day, when I held it up and showed it to my daughter, The Dumplin Eater, and told her the story.  I promised to give it to her and she promised to pass it on to her daughter one day, along with the story, thus making six generations of us who have stirred a pot  with this very special old wooden spoon.

I posted my mom's Chicken and Dumplin Recipe back in June, with the Hello Baby ~ Good-bye Money, post.  You can find it there.  
     This is my great grandmother's apple butter recipe. Ironically, I never knew that I had it, until just a few days ago. While looking for a receipe, I came across it, written out in my mother's handwriting, with the top line of the card simply stating, Grandma's Apple Butter.  While I've never personally made it, I do recall my granmothers hand placed over the top of mine, as we stirred up a batch together. Growing up it was always on our table, that is until 1984 when my great grandmother died at the ripe old age 90.  Go to the "Misc. Recipes" tab at the top of this page to view it.

Dec 9, 2010

Flavor Tripping...The Results

This is Part 2 of 2, about Flavor Tripping.  For the full story see the previous post.
The Daughter-No honey, there is
nothing in your teeth, really.
 We all swallowed our miracle berries, signed the autopsy authorization forms, and got set to do some flavor tripping.
     We began by biting into lemons, that surprisingly didn’t even produce so much as a pucker.  Unbelievable, is the only word that comes to mind!  Limes were tart, but sweet and strawberries were strawberries.  Grapefruit was sweeter than normal, with no trace of tartness or acidity.  Dr. Lexus thought he tasted vanilla.  Whatever.
Mrs. Lexus-going for the wasabi
Yes, all the cool kids were trippin!
     We moved on to the cheeses.  I won’t name names, but my daughter, the one who has never tasted goat cheese in her life, rose to the occasion and sampled a bite, only to declare that it tasted like ass, while the rest of us thought it tasted more like cream cheese frosting.  The Big Guy (her father) pointed out that I am an expert at eating ass, so I would know if that were true or not.  (The verdict?  Oh no it di'int.  It tasted more like frosting.)  Feta cheese was mild, even bland and lost its subtle sourness.  Cottage cheese was flat and Gorgonzola completely gave up the blue vibe and was mild, making this pungent cheese nearly impossible to identify.
    We had vegetables to sample, so we moved on.  The tomato!  OMG, the tomato!  It was to-freakin-die-for!  Never have I tasted such an amazing, sweet, tomato ~ unless it was one just plucked from the vine…in late August…in Italy…by an Italian Stallion…ahhh...but I digress.  Brussel sprouts were still brussel sprouts, no matter how you sliced em (go figure) and dill pickles were the same, while sweet pickles were even sweeter.  Just give me more tomatoes please and put some balsamic vinegar on them, which by the way, turned sweet and syrupy, with no acidity whatsoever.  It was so good that you could have poured it over pancakes, kicked Mrs. Butterworth to the curb and saved yourself a whole lot of calories.  The champagne vinegar was another story, somehow tasting stronger than normal, at least to my highly trained palette.
That would be Friskies she's sampling
Tastes like chicken!
     By this point all semblance of order was thrown out the window and we were tasting with abandon and looting the refrigerator like there was about to be a flood in the kitchen.
      Mrs. Lexus and I loved the way pickled ginger turned sweet and mellow, but we couldn’t decide if it or the tomato was our favorite.  Blondie thought pickled ginger tasted like Pledge—yes, the furniture polish.  Hmmm, wonder what that girl’s been sniffin?
The pepper-wasibi-sriacha line dance
We moved on to the hot stuff, biting into hot peppers that didn’t bite back.  They still packed a punch, but tasted much more mild than usual.  We decided to up the ante and get out the big guns, beginning with wasabi.  It still had that distinct flavor but didn’t make your sinuses head south.  Sambal Oelek was sweet and hot at the same time, but we couldn’t taste the garlic.  Sriracha was still hot, but didn’t linger.  Dr. Lexus put some wasabi and sriracha on his hot pepper and we all cleared the area in case he spontaneously combusted, but he didn’t even break a sweat.  Said he thought he tasted a hint of vanilla. Whatever.  Son-in-law followed suit, and if it hadn’t been for the singed eyebrows, you wouldn’t have even known there had been a fire.  Langfield and The Big Guy, were not about to be outdone, so they manned up and did the pepper-wasabi-sriracha dance too, while I stood by ready to pull the pin on the fire extinguisher.  No worries…hot is still hot without the heat, if that makes sense.
The Tequila Snob
     We decided to cool the party off with some drinks.  I’ll start by telling you what NOT to drink while under the influence of the miracle fruit:  wine.  Yes, the best way to ruin a good glass of Chardonnay, short of finding a fly in it, is to drink it while under the influence of mberrys.  Moving on…I love Guinness beer but I love it even more when it tastes like chocolate—and it did—vaguely.  Then I remembered that I had a Chocolate Stout pushed into the far corner of the fridge, so I busted that out.  I’ll just tell you that little move may have been one of the smartest things that I’ve done all year! It was like swigging melted chocolate and who doesn't love that?  My advice, skip the Guinness and go straight for the Chocolate Stout.  With more work to do, we trudged on…Red Bull was sickening sweet, even for Daughters unusual liking of the already sickening sweet stuff.  Our tequila snob friends, the Langfields, brought cheap tequila and surprisingly, cheap tequila smooths out and tastes like really good, cheap tequila.  I’m not a gin drinker, but I thought my top shelf gin tasted pretty dang good.  The Dr. and Mrs. Lexus, who are world renowned gin drinkers and who are in the know about all things gin, agreed that, yes, miracle berries and gin could make a tasty martini. The Doc thought he tasted a hint of vanilla.  Whatever.
The Gin Know-it-alls
By the end of the hour the miracle berry's effect had worn off and our taste buds returned to normal.  We sat down to a dinner of lasagna, something I love but only make about twice a year.  It’s an all day affair and I have no concise recipe, so I wing it as I go.  The only constant is two sauces (Béchamel and Bolognaise), three meats (beef, pork and Italian sausage), four cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and one other), lots of herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, fennel, bay), and the best canned Italian tomatoes that money can buy (like San Marzano or Muir Glen). 
      I simmered the sauce for a couple of hours and then stacked it all up.  When it came out of the oven we said ciao to a pan of pure goodness.  I tasted comfort.  Dr. Lexus said he thought he tasted a hint of vanilla.  Whatever.

My lasagna recipe is all about the sauce.  The scent and texture tell me when it's done, and there is just no way to put that in writing.  Simmer, stir and season.  When it's deep red, thickened and fragrant, call it a day and put it all together.  Go to the "Pasta" tab at the top of this page to view it.  (Note: Since I don't use an actual recipe, all quanites are approximate.  Feel free to adjust as necesarry.)

Picture of Lasagna - Free Pictures -

Dec 4, 2010

Flavor Tripping 101

As soon as I put my credit card info on the form and hit the “submit” button, I felt that familiar shopper’s rush.  You know the one.  The little high you get when you buy something expensive and exciting.  The one that is immediately followed by that other familiar feeling—buyer’s remorse.  Yep, that's the one...and anytime I spend as much on shipping as what the actual item costs, it gives me pause to think:  A) is it legal, B) how good does it have to be if it’s not legal, and C) how much time before I’m out for good behavior.  It wasn’t like I was buying blood diamonds or anything, but judging by the cost per weight, it was pretty much the food equivalent of blood diamonds.    
     What I’m talking about here is miracle fruit, (or Synsepalum dulcificum for you scientific types), a plant that is native to West Africa, but which I totally bypassed and got from Puerto Rico.  In this tiny red berry is a protein called miraculin, which causes a reaction when it parties with the taste buds, which by the way, is just before the real fun begins!  So here's how it works...this little gem comes in contact with acids and acts as a sweetness inducer, thus turning sour to sweet.  That’s the technical business of it, but hey, I was in it purely for the fun.
     So before I went looking for a dealer, uhhh, I mean a legitimate vendor, to purchase these little jewels from, I consulted my peeps to see if they were up for some flavor tripping.  Mrs. Lexus, suspicious nature that she has, immediately asked if they were an illegal substance, and if we were really going to be tripping on LSD?  Hellifiknow, I admitted, checking to make sure she wasn’t wearing a wire.  So then I asked another friend, Blondie, who asked no questions whatsoever, just said if I was having a party and if there was food and tripping involved...well, to sign her and the Mister up.  The Big Guy came up with an unlikely excuse (like work) and RSVP’ed with regrets, of which I wasn’t having any part of.  The Minute Rice family, who hate everything, unless it comes in a cellophane wrapper, actually wanted to come and try foods that they would never have otherwise been inclined to try.  Dr. Lexus said to count him in and offered to perform autopsies for free, if need be.
Some of our samplings, and yes I know this picture is upside down

     With everyone willing to let me screw with their taste buds, I placed my order from an online company called mberry.  I’d like to take just a second to tell you that their VP of Sales, a Mr. David Fong, (contact here) demonstrated the best customer service that I have probably ev-ver experienced.  A SNAFU with the USPS caused my highly perishable berries to arrive late, with some looking a little worse for wear.  Mr. Fong not only refunded my shipping, but he also sent me a free pack of mberry tablets to try. (Note to self: if you plan to have your own flavor tripping party, I highly recommend ordering from this company.)  
So here’s the lowdown. We each popped a Miracle Berry into our mouths, rolled it around like it were an atom in a super conductor, then we bit into it and swished the little bit of pulp around in our mouths. It was pleasant enough tasting, semi-sweet with a typical berry texture and a small seed that was edible, although a little bitter. I felt no weird hallucinations happening in my mouth. No déjà vu from the 70's, no miniature aliens taking over..nada…nothing…hmmm.
The food was laid out ~ let the games begin!  
This is Part 1 of 2 about Miracle Berries and Flavor Tripping.  Stay tuned for the results of our tasting!