Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hunting Island, What a Sweet Find


When I researched Hunting Island before our trip, I went right to the images section of Google.  And it looked so pretty and so inviting.  I was not disappointed.  I highly recommend reservations-even with the strange weather this week , the campground was fairly full and did fill up come Friday night. And if you want a beach site, you definitely should reserve.  I don't think I would attempt this park in the middle of summer when it would be lovely to romp in the ocean.  Residents warned us that it's always busy and the beach is filled with people.  Since it wasn't the middle of summer, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.

Sometimes when we camp, we drive into town, but we were lazy and just stayed put the entire time we were here.  We walked the beach 3 or 4 times a day.  Went shell hunting; tried to spot the bald eagles who were building a nest in the direction of the lighthouse, but missed them; and generally gazed out at the water.  I highly recommend water gazing.  Sometimes I can clear my mind completely while other times I get very creative and can't stop all the ideas swimming through my brain.

This really is a sweet park, even if you can't get a beach site, the wooded sites are pretty to, and you can see the beach from most places in the park.  And in case you are wondering-nice clean,well heated restrooms !  No laundry but then you don't feel guilty for not doing it .

I loved this tree, it was actually surrounded by a dozen or so downed trees but it felt like it was holding onto it's majesty and not giving into the sea, just yet. When the tide was higher I watched a dolphin feeding just feet from the tree and wondered what it's roots held for the sea life. The shore birds always gathered here when the tide was out, so I think they had the same feeling about the tree as me. I hope this tree stands for many more years-if you visit the park, don't tell me if it falls.  I always want to think about The Tree as strong and stately, standing up to the battering waves, winds and tides-unchanging in it's beauty.

We walked and walked Sunday morning, sometimes following deer prints in the sand, sometimes following the foamy shoreline-mostly just wandering and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Sunday morning and the tide was the highest we've seen it all week

 Don't you love to stumble on something so mundane as a metal barrier and find such beauty in it ?

 The colors reminded me of a Monet painting

It started to cloud up as we headed back but that didn't stop our little Hailey from running like a crazy puppy, all up and down the beach.  One of these days we're going to put a pedometer on her, I'm sure she does about 10 miles to our 3.

 Hailey expresses the kind of joy I feel at the beach

When I found this whelk during low tide I felt like I struck the lottery, don't you love those colors ?

Weather this week has been a little crazy; highs in the 60's, lows in the teens.  As we got back to Ruby from our walk it was starting to get cloudy and cold with a threat of rain.  I decided it would be a good day for baking. When I get hungry for sweets, it's usually something plain, with just a little sugar.  Shortbread cookies, popovers, or Madeleines.  Today it was Madeleines with just a dusting of sugar.  The butter and honey and vanilla flavors really come out because the batter sits for at least 30-90 minutes before baking.  These are not overly sweet and once out of the oven they get little slightly crispy shell on the outside. I love that-and these are best eaten the day they are made. I dare you to see if you can keep them longer ! This is another easy recipe and if you don't have a Madeleine pan, don't worry-use what you have, cupcake holders, muffin pans-they all work. This is another recipe by David Lebovitz, remember I told you I loved his blog and recipes- I wasn't kidding.

Yield:16 individual cakes
For the Madeleines:
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1. Make the Madeleines: Place the eggs in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Whip on medium high speed, adding the sugar a little at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated.
Turn the mixer to high and whisk until the eggs have doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the flour,baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Cover the bowl and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons of the butter for brushing the pans.) Add the honey and cook, stirring until smooth, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.
4. Stir the butter and honey mixture (rewarm to liquefy if necessary) into the batter until smooth. Cover the batter and allow to rest for an additional 30 minutes or up to an hour.
5. To make the madeleines, preheat oven to 400°. Brush the 16 indentations of the Madeleine molds with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.Using a tablespoon, fill each indentation in the molds three quarters full with batter. Tap the pan on the counter to distribute the batter evenly. Bake until deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 30 seconds, and then tip them out onto a cooling rack. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whip cream and strawberries.

**If you don't have a Madeleine pan, use a small muffin pan.

 Until next time pretty Hunting Island

"There was no where to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars "
Jack Kerouac
Happy Trails and Safe Travels My Friends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Love a Good Farmers Market

Just look at those home grown tomatoes-aren't they gorgeous ?  Pretty near perfect.  We love to search out Farmer's Markets in our travels. I think it's the best way to eat-local,fresh and organic.  We stumbled upon the St. Augustine Farmer's Market when we hit the traffic jam created by it on A1A. This was one of the many times we were grateful for our Roadtrek-we were the only camper type vehicle looking for a parking spot-the aisles were narrow and the spots were small,but not a challenge for Ruby. We made one drive through and finally found a spot right near the entrance-lucky us.

This market is incredible-our senses were overwhelmed with the smell of fresh bread and all kinds of foods being cooked.  We didn't know where to look first-so we started with the bread.  Of course we bought the little peach tarts you see in the picture.  And I lucked out and got one of the most incredible croissants I have ever tasted since leaving Seattle.  I wish I would have gotten the name of the baker-he is one talented pastry chef-next time I will.

These are pictures of carvings done by the artist.  The name of his studio is Dhruva, after Hindu mythology.  He went to India to study their techniques with fabric dying and decided he wanted to learn and perfect his carving skills so that he could print his own designs.  I think he has pretty much perfected those skills as evidenced by his display.  

The pickle tent was amazing-must have been about 20 different barrels of all sorts of pickles. There was a woman next to me from Provence who got so excited when she found pickles similar to the ones she got at home in Provence-how cool is that .

It finally dawned on me why I love Farmer's Markets so much-they are filled to the brim and most times overflowing with creative energy.  From the growers, farmers,cheese makers,bakers,chefs,and artists-that energy is alive and surrounds you as you walk around. A good Farmer's Market is one of my favorite places to be.  It gets my creative juices going and it just makes me feel good.  The fabulous food doesn't hurt either.

One of the best decisions I made when packing for this year long adventure was to bring along my little FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer. It's small enough that I tuck it under the corner of the bed, where it's completely out of the way until I need it.  I love it , we can seal up all the fruit and veggies and just about anything and it really does extend the life of our stored food.  They advertise 5 times longer than other storage methods and I believe it.  Plus because it sucks the air out of the bag, it takes up less room in the refrigerator and/or freezer.  The only drawback is that we either have to be plugged in to use it or run the generator-but I still think it's worth it.  It's one of the best buys I've made !

Enjoy your travels and keep an eye out for those Farmer's Markets.  Both the Android Market and iTunes have a huge selection of apps to help you find the markets.  I just started using Farmstand from iTunes and really like it. And it's free! It uses your location to give you a list of markets near you along with their hours of operation, opening dates  and addresses.  Check it out.

Happy Trails, safe travels and Eat Local !

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sugar Crusted Cinnamon Popovers at Hunting Island

It's a windy,looks like it's going to rain at any moment kind of day at the beach.  You know what I mean, teapot whistling on the stove, a good book in hand, your favorite corner all plumped with soft pillows and the smell of popovers wafting throughout.  Wait, am I at home?  No, I'm in our Roadtrek at Hunting Island.

Jim just took Hailey for a walk and I decided to surprise him with some hot right from the oven popovers.  These are one of my favorites, all puffy, coated with melted butter and dipped in cinnamon sugar.

When I'm home I use a metal popover pan I found really cheap at IKEA. But there was no room to fit it for this trip so I'm making popovers for the first time in my cast iron biscuit drop pan. And so far from peeking in the oven they look pretty good!

They came out really nice.  They stuck a little to the cast iron pan, next time I will use some parchment paper on the bottom of the pan so that they come loose more easily. This is a very easy recipe, honest.  It's not at all complicated and also very easy to make in the Roadtrek. And tomorrow we will be hiking to the lighthouse to work off the sugar !

This recipe is from David Lebovitz, one of my favorite chefs.  I use a lot of his recipes and they are always absolutely delicious

Makes7-9 depending on what type pan you use.You can use standard-sized muffin tins. For this recipe, feel free to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your preference.
For the puffs:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup (140 g) flour
For the sugar coating:
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60 g) melted butter
Softened butter, for greasing the pan
  •  Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Liberally grease a nonstick popover pan, or a muffin pan with 1/2-cup indentations, with softened butter.
  •  For the puffs, put the 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
  •  Add the flour and whiz for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.
  •  Divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.
  •  Bake for 35 minutes, or until the puffs are deep brown.
  •  Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the              popovers from the pans and set them on a cooling rack. If they’re stubborn, you may need a small  knife or spatula to help pry them out.
  •  Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Thoroughly brush each popover all over with the 1/4 cup (60 g) of melted butter, then dredge each puff generously in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat them completely. Let cool on the wire rack.
Bon Appetit my sweet friends, Happy Trails and safe travels.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Magical, Mystical Manatee

It was very early and I could hear Jim saying, Babes get up it's time.  I rolled over and thought, time,what time ?  Then I remembered, oh yes I wanted up early to see the manatees-before the sun came up on Deep Springs.  I threw on my clothes,grabbed my jacket and camera and we started the 3/4 mile hike to the springs.

It's always worth it to get up early for those magical moments you encounter just as the sun is coming out.  Walking down the boardwalk was like walking through a primordial forest.  I expected a dinosaur to walk across our path as we hiked through the fog.  Spanish moss hanging from the trees and the songs of the morning birds were our only companions.

And then we came around the slight bend in the boardwalk and there they were-the sweet gentle creatures. Some rolling in the water,some splashing, some sleeping.  What a sight, you can't help but feel blessed and fortunate to share a moment like this with these mystical creatures.

This was the first time I have seen manatees and now I understand why sailors thought they were sirens of the sea.  They roll so gently and so gracefully and looks so at peace-it makes you want to join them.

We watched for quite some time, listening to the sounds of their breath as they came to the surface. It was amazing to see how they almost appeared to snuggle with each other and reach out and touch each other ever so gently. I felt honored to be able to share those moments.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Not So Ho Hum

I find it hard to believe that someone would even think about calling this place ho-hum. Especially the water front sites.  Maybe when they first named the park the weren't thinking about the incredible views from the waterfront sites, because if they did it would be called the Wowzer RV Resort !

We only needed a place to stop for one night that would position us half way to Blue Springs State Park .  And since it was four o'clock in the afternoon and we were finished driving we picked this place.  Plus we heard so many good things about it.  It's all about the location.  If you stay here don't expect elaborate restrooms-they are clean, a little old , but clean.  It's the view -and please if you stay here book a waterfront site-or you'll be sorry you didn't.

While Jim took Hailey for a walk, I walked out on the boardwalk to get some photos of the sunset.  I was not disappointed.  Love those days of big puffy clouds with setting sun peaking through them.  And you know with those kinds of clouds you are going to get some great pinks and purples when that sun goes down.

Jim joined me with two wine glasses to toast the sunset.  What we ended up doing was gulping down our wine as we watched this incredible storm front move in.  

We probably stayed a little too long on the boardwalk and I ended up thinking,hmm, wonder what I would look like with singed hair from lightening. As the skies got darker, the sun was setting and casting this very eerie dark pink over everything that wasn't already turning dark grey and dark blue.

When I saw these colors (not enhanced by me) I knew it was time to take cover.  We headed for the safety of Ruby. No sooner were we inside then the rains came.  The storm didn't last long, maybe 45 minutes or so.  But we never ventured back outside-too warm and cozy inside.  Once the skies cleared we watched the moon rise through our back window.  Everyday is something new on the road.  That's why we love this life.
Happy Trails, safe travels and stay out of the storms my friends.

Low Country Boil and Mardi Gras Go'Shay Style

"A Journey is Best Measured in Friends Rather Than Miles"
Tim Cahill

The measure of this journey was magnificent.  So many friends , both old and new, came so many miles to laugh, eat, play,share stories and share this incredible world of Roadtrekers . Strangers introduced themselves to each other and within seconds hugs were exchanged and you could feel the celebration of a new friendship beginning.  Old friends hugged too, as if they hadn't seen each other in years and never wanted to let go.  Does it sound corny to say there was a little bit of magic going around and a whole lot of love and affection ? So be it.  It wasn't just the food that filled us, but the connection to others who are exactly like us-wanderers who travel the back roads and highways because it's a passion and love of ours.  Wanderers who can tell you where the best place is to boondock or where to find the best juicy greasy hamburger any place in the country !  Meet the people I am proud and honored to call friends.  

And like I told him (Pogo), this Pittsburgh boy knows how to throw a party and cook a mean Low Country Boil.  You wouldn't believe the silence that fell over the party as everyone was eating.  All you could hear was hmm,mmm,mmm.

There were plenty of us who disappeared for naps after the feast. I just happened to catch Phil-love you buddy ♥

Round em up, head em out, time for a Gautier Mardi Gras parade !

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born
until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new
world is born.
Anais Nin

Happy Trails friends, and safe travels.