Category Archives: Recipes

Caribbean Coleslaw Recipe

Not your average coleslaw: this zingy recipe will take your taste buds on vacation to an island rimmed with white sand beaches and coconut palms. I can almost hear the steel drums…

Caribbean Slaw

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons Turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon favorite hot sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon each)

1 head of green cabbage, thin sliced or shredded

1 large ripe-but-firm mango, peeled and julienned OR

         1/2 pineapple, cut into small chunks

1 cup shredded or julienned carrots

1 cup thin-sliced red or green bell pepper

1/2 cup thin-sliced red onion

1/2 cup sliced almonds or sunflower seeds

Combine the Dijon, sugar, red wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic, hot sauce, coconut oil, water, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake for about two minutes to emulsify (or use a blender). In a large bowl, place cabbage, carrots, pepper, onion, and mango; toss to combine. Add dressing and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve chilled and sprinkled with almonds. 

Friday Night Pizza

pizza pepperoni

Friday Night Pizza is a long-standing tradition on Take Two, but it dates from my childhood. I remember my mom making homemade pizza on Friday evenings, or sometimes Dad would “cook” and we’d have Pizza Hut or Domino’s, and later, Papa John’s. It’s an easy meal to make for a crowd, and we have often invited friends and neighbors to join us for pizza night. I’m missing that right now–and missing all of you who have sat around our table and shared our Friday night tradition. If you want to try it on your own, look below to find the recipes for my pizza crust and homemade sauce!

pizza dough

Pizza Crust for Four 15-inch Pizzas

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached white flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons yeast                   

3 tablespoons sugar

4+ cups unbleached white flour

  1. Mix flours and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Mix water, oil, yeast, and sugar in a separate bowl, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Allow to rest for a few minutes; yeast will begin to bubble.
  3. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
  4. Begin to add flour, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until the dough begins to form a ball and becomes too thick to stir.
  5. Turn dough out onto a clean, floured surface and begin to knead.* The dough will stick to your hands initially. Keep adding flour, folding it in as you knead. Eventually, the dough will be less sticky, but be careful not to add too much flour or the dough will be too dry. The goal is “tacky, not sticky.” *If you have a KitchenAid, use the dough hook and let the machine do the work!
  6. After kneading for 5-10 minutes, the dough should be soft and stretchy; if you take a small ball of dough and stretch it between two hands, you should be able to make a translucent “window” of dough you can see light through. If it tears instead of stretching, it needs more kneading!
  7. Once well-kneaded, sprinkle flour over the the ball of dough and cover with the inverted bowl or a damp towel. Allow to rise while you make the sauce, oil the pans, and chop the toppings, 30 minutes to one hour.
pizza sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce

2 15-oz cans tomato sauce

1 6-oz can tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic

  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix (or blender/food processor). If using a regular blender/food processor, mince the garlic first.
  2. Run on high for 30 seconds to one minute, until mixture is homogenous. Set aside while you chop toppings.
pizza oven

Top, Assemble, and Bake!

2 6-oz packages pepperoni

1 lb. Italian sausage or turkey sausage, browned and crumbled

1 cup each: sliced mushrooms, olives, green peppers, onions

8 cups mozzarella cheese

Other options: hamburger, bacon, and salami; chopped ham and fresh or canned pineapple; tomato slices and fresh basil; chicken, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar-jack cheese; chicken, black bean, corn, jalapeño, salsa, and cheddar cheese…et cetera.

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Space oven racks so you can get two pizzas in at the same time.
  2. Oil four 15″ pizza pans and sprinkle with corn meal. (If you don’t have four, place dough circles on oiled/corn meal-sprinkled aluminum foil and reuse the same pizza pan.)
  3. Once dough ball has doubled in size, divide into four equal portions and roll into balls.
  4. Sprinkle your kneading surface and the top of a dough ball with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll ball into a 15″ circle, adding flour as necessary to reduce sticking. Fold into quarters and transfer to pan; unfold. Prick all over with a fork. Repeat for other three dough balls.
  5. Pre-bake crusts for 5-10 minutes; they’ll begin to rise/bubble, but not brown.
  6. Remove hot crust, top with about one cup of sauce and desired toppings.
  7. Sprinkle with 2 cups of cheese.
  8. Bake another 10 minutes, or to desired doneness. Crust should be golden brown, cheese bubbling at the edges.
  9. Slice up and serve with “shakies”–red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese!
pizza margarita
Margherita: fresh tomato and basil

Favorite Treat on Take Two: Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz.), softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz carton lemon yogurt (or plain yogurt + lemon zest)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Juice of one lemon
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and lemon flavoring. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl and add to sugar/butter mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan (or two 8″ loaf pans). Sharply tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; check for doneness with a toothpick and bake additional 15 minutes if necessary (bake until toothpick comes out clean). Cool cake in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan and cool another 10 minutes. Whisk powdered sugar into the lemon juice little by little in a small bowl until desired consistency is reached (like honey). Drizzle over warm cake.

Taco Tuesday on Take Two: Homemade Tortillas

WARNING: A recipe so delicious you may never be able to use store-bought tortillas again and be stuck with a time-consuming cooking project every Tuesday…

Taco Tuesday on Take Two
Tortillas made by Rachel (age 9)

For 3 dozen 6-inch tortillas, you will need:

3 cups corn flour (masa harina)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups wheat flour

Instructions:

  1. Pour the water and olive oil into a large bowl.
  2. Add the corn flour and salt and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the wheat flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until the dough is stiff enough to be kneaded by hand, but still soft and pliable. It should resemble Play-Doh consistency, and it should roll into balls without sticking to your hands.
  4. Preheat a cast iron griddle (or lightly oiled skillet) over medium-low heat.
  5. Pinch off some dough and roll a ball about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place it between two pieces of wax paper or in a quart-size plastic bag cut along the sides.
  6. Use a tortilla press or rolling pin to flatten the ball to a 6-inch round.
  7. Peel tortilla off the lining and cook on the heated griddle, flipping after 30-60 seconds. Cook for an additional 30-60 seconds. It will bubble and get golden-brown spots. (Turn heat down if it seems like it’s cooking too fast or burning easily.)
  8. When done, place in a bowl lined with a cloth napkin–tortillas should stack without sticking.
  9. Fill with amazing taco ingredients and top with guacamole or pico de gallo!

Hummus is Yummus: A Favorite Passage Recipe

Hummus is Yummus
Spicy Hummus

2 cups cooked (or 1 can) chickpeas
1/3 cup sesame seeds (or tahini)
1-2 tablespoons water
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
Garnish: Fresh parsely, ground paprika, or cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients on high in Vitamix (if using a food processor or blender, use tahini and mince the garlic).If too dry, add water or olive oil until consistency is thick and creamy. Sprinkle with parsley, paprika or cayenne if desired. Serve with pita, fresh veggies, or tortilla chips.

Homemade Granola

Delicious with yogurt and fruit, this is a simple granola recipe I have used for years. It makes a lot and stores well in mason jars or a large airtight cereal container. 

Homemade Granola

Prep Time: 4 hours

Makes: 13+ cups

8 cups organic rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted)

1 cup sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)

1 cup pecans, broken or chopped into small pieces

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup raw honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup orange juice or 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate + 1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place oats, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl. Stir in salt and cinnamon. In a small pot, warm honey, coconut oil, orange juice and vanilla, stirring with a whisk to combine. Pour warm liquid over oat mixture and spread evenly onto 2 baking sheets. Place in oven on lowest temperature setting and slowly bake/dehydrate, turning granola with a spatula every 30 minutes. Bake 2-3 hours or until granola is golden-brown and beginning to crisp. Turn oven off and allow granola to cool in oven. When granola is completely cool, it should be dry and crispy. In an airtight container, it will store well for about a month (assuming it hasn’t been devoured by then). Helpful tip: If you don’t have hours to bake, you can turn up the heat to 300° and stir every 15 minutes and it should be done in about an hour.

San Andres and Providencia, Part I

Before heading into the Caribbean, we had never even heard of these two little islands. They are hundreds of miles from Colombia, which governs them, and the local population, being of English or African descent, bears very little resemblance to the Spanish or Mestizos of Latin America. But several sailors we met along the way told us not to miss them—Providencia especially, or as the English dubbed it, Divine Old Providence. We spent nearly a month in San Andres—about three weeks longer than we had planned—because it was an unusually windy February and we weren’t interested in getting our butts kicked again. Our passage from Panama to San Andres was about 240 nautical miles, and we sailed it in 30 hours, with a reefed main and partially furled jib in strong winds and rough seas. Nobody moved except to get a drink and go to the bathroom. So, despite the jet skis, the nearly-constant tour-boat wakes, and the noise of the port of San Andres, we stayed. And we stayed long enough to get beneath what Jay calls the veneer of “Duty-free Disney,” with its crowded streets lined with liquor stores, restaurants, tee-shirt shops, and all-inclusive resorts.

As is always the case, the people make the place. Even a pretty place is just a location until you make a friend. Our agent, Julian, was very welcoming and helpful, and his 13-year-old son, Keiram, came out to the boat to swim and play with our kids every weekend.

Kids with Keiram, San Andres

Through Julian, we met Sky, or as he likes to be called, “Brother Sky” (as a reminder that we are all a part of the same human family). At 73, he is tall, lean, and surprisingly muscular and energetic, with blue-green eyes and graying hair and beard. He wears a hand-woven hat and speaks with a West-Indian lilt. He led us on a guided tour of the island and explained its history and politics. We ended up at Star’s Kitchen, a little beach restaurant on the south end of the island near the town of San Luis.

Star’s place is charming, and the food is good—she uses fresh fish and produce to create simple, yet delicious dishes, served in hand-woven palm baskets on tables in the sand under the shade of coconut trees. As we sat sipping freshly-made fruit juices in the sea breeze, Sky talked about the “coconut culture” which once pervaded the island, but has now all but vanished. Young and old alike worked the coconut plantations: the children rode donkeys laden with ripe coconuts for export, which had been gathered by men wearing iron-spiked climbing shoes, while those too old to climb kept the books. It was a community enterprise from which everyone benefitted, and nothing from the coconut tree was wasted. While he talked of his youth in the 1950s, a time before the tourism boom, he wove coconut fronds into fish and birds. He had made all of the baskets at the restaurant, having learned the craft from someone in the Virgin Islands while traveling and working as the photographer on a cruise ship. I asked if he would be willing to teach me, and we set a date to meet again at Star’s Kitchen.

The older kids, despite being offered a day off from high-school, didn’t fancy sitting under a palm tree all day weaving baskets, so they stayed home, while Rachel and Sam and I met Sky at the bus stop mid-morning and took a local bus to the other end of the island. The bus to the beach was crammed full of Colombian tourists, so we took the bus that passes through Barrack—the hilly neighborhood where the local islanders live (as opposed to the city on the north end of the island, where the Colombian immigrants live and work). Riding the bus is the same everywhere in the Caribbean; the people hop on and off the bus and chat with each other in the local dialect—here it bears a strong resemblance to the patois of the Eastern Caribbean. The bus passed the First Baptist church at the crest of the hill; with its white clapboard sides, colored glass windows, and steeple, it looks like a church plucked from a small town in the southern United States and dropped where it could be closest to heaven—and with an overlook of the famous “sea of seven blues,” its view is awe-inspiring. The road curves down, past half-finished mansions built by drug lords and corrupt government officials, and we got off near the beach and walked to Star’s Kitchen to begin our day of weaving.

The weaving required a lot of concentration and patience, and Sky is part teacher-part guru, his mantra, “Take what you have to make what you need.” Rachel played happily in the sand and hammock all day, and Sam wove fish after fish until the motion became automatic. (Later, Sky came for pizza night on Take Two, and taught Sam to make little birds in flight.) I completed a hanging basket and learned the steps for a bowl. We paused for lunch and then wove all afternoon. As the light began to fade, we packed up my “homework,” partially-finished baskets to complete on my own. We rode home, feeling sleepy in the warmth and rocking of the bus. That night, with Sky’s words fresh in my mind, I composed a song, which I sang for him when he visited later in the week. He offered more wisdom about life and happiness and learning—”knowledge is power, but only when it is shared.” When we sailed away the next week, we had the satisfaction of having shared in his knowledge, and we took a little piece of that place with us, and left a bit of ourselves there—the exchange that forms the backbone of our travelling life.

Sam weaving coconut palm

 

Not So Long Ago (in San Andres)     

Not so long ago

On this little island

Fish filled the seas, coconuts grew on trees

People were happy, they could live as they pleased

We’ll never forget what it was like

Not so long ago

 

Not so long ago

The people of this island

Helped each other like sisters and brothers

Worked together in all kinds of weather

Kept the traditions passed onto us

Not so long ago

 

Not so long ago

Things changed on this island

New people came and changed all the names,

Chopped down the trees, killed the fish in the seas

They erased the place that used to be

Not so long ago

 

Now the people come and go

On this little island

Eight flights a day, from far away

On boats and jet-skis, they do whatever they please

They never see what used to be

Not so long ago

 

No so long ago

I left the little island

I couldn’t stay, so I sailed away

But the wind in the trees and the turquoise seas

Called to me in my dreams

Not so long ago

 

Not so long ago

I came back to the island

Though things have changed, some things remain

They can’t take from our hearts the most important parts:

We sing and we dance, we pray and we love,

Just like long ago,

Just like long ago…

Stuff Day

Our parents have tried very hard to keep things like toys and games from becoming the center of our lives. We don’t have a big Christmas, and we don’t get birthday presents; instead, we go do something fun. This is generally a good practice, but it breaks down when we do get new things. Occasionally, we have a Stuff Day. It doesn’t come every year and it doesn’t come on a specific day, but when it does, we’ll be excitedly cutting packing tape and popping bubble wrap.

We made a big Amazon order recently because here in San Andres we can have things shipped to us duty-free in a container. The minimum cost is $80, which might seem expensive, but it’s measured in cubic feet, and when you order a bunch of stuff, it’s not that much. It only costs $130 to ship 40 cubic feet of cargo, which is obviously more than we were getting. All of our boxes but one made it onto the ship, and then we just had to wait for it come. It took four days to get to San Andres from Miami, all of which were filled with anticipation and speculation on our part. On the day of its arrival, we all watched, trying and failing to suppress grins and evil laughs, as the Jan Caribe, the ship bearing our goods, came into the channel.

Our Ship Coming In

This is what I’m talking about: we’re all excited and giddy about some stuff on a container ship. All right, it wasn’t just “some stuff,” that container held a waffle-maker, a five-by-eight-foot inflatable platform, four Wii controllers (we already had a Wii that someone had given us), and a 32” television (among other things like boat parts of course). The next day, we collected it all and got it onto the boat. Once it was all inside, the packages took up our entire living room space! Then we started unpacking. It took us an hour to open all the boxes, unpack them, and stow the loot. We got dock lines, a shore-power cord, orange cleaner, mail, a wind instrument, etc.; it was the biggest pile of new stuff we’ve ever had!

Waffles

We inflated our new raft and played on it. We made waffles the next morning with our new waffle maker. We even got to play Mariokart on the new TV! It just shows that despite our best intentions not to become materialistic, there is no denying that new stuff makes us happy, at least for a short time.

Floating Island of Fun

 

San Blas

The San Blas islands have been on the cruising list, or so I’m told, since before we bought the boat. They certainly do seem list-worthy, with clear blue-green water, miles of reef, picturesque palm-tree-studded islands, and friendly natives. We set out from Linton Bay Marina after about a month of stocking up and waiting for weather, and sailed east to spend a few weeks in the San Blas archipelago.

San Blas consists of hundreds of islands and islets on the eastern end of Panama’s Caribbean coast. They are quite beautiful, not hilly or mountainous like Bocas del Toro or the mainland, but flat spits of land covered in white sand and palm trees. Many of them have thatch huts, and dugout canoes, called ulus, pulled up on the beach.

Parting Shot, San Blas

The islands are part of the Comarca de Guna Yala, a large province that covers about a quarter of Panama’s land area. They and the surrounding jungles are home to the Guna Yala, a peaceful, independently-governed indigenous people that mostly live as they have lived for centuries (minus the TVs). They are best known for their molas (intricately embroidered, quilted handicrafts), which they are-all-too happy to sell to cruisers and tourists.

For the first few days, we moved around a lot. We would anchor in one place, stay there a day or two, and go somewhere else. On our second night, while in the Hollandes Cays, we turned on the underwater light. We saw large fish circling the light, and decided to take a night swim (well, those that were brave enough). I took along the spear gun, just in case. Spearfishing in the San Blas is not strictly legal for visitors, but the prohibition is not enforced. As it turns out, the circling fish were huge schools of permit. Shooting one would be easy. That didn’t stop me from missing on the first try, but after several false starts and five minutes of unwanted reloading practice, I got one. This was only the second time I had ever shot a fish, and the first time with our gun. It was a good shot too, right through the brain. I hauled my catch up the ladder, and Dad gutted it. We put it in the icebox whole for later consumption. (We later heard there’s a resident caiman in that same island group. )

Eli Fish Killer

There were two major problems with an extended stay in the San Blas: internet and food. The cell service we were able to get was sketchy at best, and nonexistent at worst. Dad needs copious amounts of data for his work, and if Dad can’t work, then we can’t stay. Simple as that. We went to Cartí, one of the more populated group of islands near the mainland, where Dad bought a sim card and Mom bought some groceries. As long as we stayed within range of a cell tower, internet wasn’t such a big problem, but it remained patchy.

Food was another issue. We have vast stores of mixed grain, beans, and freeze-dried goodies and ingredients, so we didn’t starve, but luxuries such as cheese and lunch meat quickly disappeared. Mom made bread every day (which was great), and we ate a lot of peanut butter and rice-and-beans (which was not great). We received a partial re-supply when our friends on Jubilee arrived, bringing with them various rare foodstuffs, like butter and cream. Once or twice, Mom and Dad took the dinghy to a nearby town to buy food. The selections at the various “grocery stores” that we encountered were limited, apparently, to flour, onions, chicken, and eggs. On one shopping excursion, Mom returned with a chicken, which had been thoughtfully plucked, and 90 eggs. We had to remove the head and feet of the chicken, and about half of the eggs were bad. Mom was always trying to sift the weevils and their larvae out of the flour. I told her that it wouldn’t matter once it was in the bread, but she wouldn’t listen.

We stayed in the West Lemon cays for a week or so, at a place where Dad could get internet, and we could wait out the Christmas winds. We didn’t do much beyond school, chores, and the daily jump-n-swim. It was wonderfully boring. Almost every day, Gunas came up to the boat, selling molas, fish, or lobster.

Sailing Ulus

When the Christmas winds ended, we sailed around aimlessly for a while, before settling near Green Island. The swimming was much better, despite there reputedly being a crocodile in the island group. There were several good reefs nearby, with deep coral walls. On sunny afternoons, Dad and I would go out to the reef and clean out all the lionfish with a pole spear. We got 11, enough for a meal.

A week before we were to leave, we were pleasantly surprised when our friends on Nakamakula arrived and anchored ‘next door.’ We had met them in Shelter Bay, and their three small girls were ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Rachel again. We hung out with them for a few days, then headed west to get ready to sail back to Linton Bay.

The next day, we left the San Blas. After a short but miserable passage, we arrived back at Linton Bay Marina. With the A/C running and sandwich meat in the fridge, it’s hard to miss being anchored in an exotic location with no modern conveniences, but I managed it somehow.

San Blas