Archive for August, 2006

El Salvador, again again

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Our flight back was uneventful with no delays, no lost luggage, no hassles in customs, no plane crashes, etc.; we emerged from the airport into ninety-degree heat (in the shade) and insane humidity. By the time we lugged all our books to the bus stop, we were already drenched in sweat. Welcome back to El Salvador. It’s bloody hot here.

Even with three bus changes and five extremely heavy parcels, it went pretty well. Nobody was in the bar waiting to give us a ride out to our boat so we hung around and had a beer waiting. Finally we gave up and called Santos on the radio since we could see his dinghy on a neighboring boat. The Time Machine looked totally fine. Oh, except for the major eyesore that are the amas with their sanded paint and flat grass-green primer blaring through. God it looks bad and I’m really not looking forward to facing that paint again. The bilges were dry though despite assurances that it had been raining cats and dogs lately and everything seems to be generally in good shape.

Just for kicks, I took a look at the barometer. It looks like this:


For those of you who have never paid any attention to barometers, the top scale that wraps around the device is the atmospheric pressure. Lower numbers mean lower pressure and higher numbers mean higher, it’s all pretty straightforward. The fancy italic words “Rain, Change, Fair” printed just below the scale is such bullshit that the first thing the instruction booklet that comes with the device says is to totally ignore them. The words are on every barometer I’ve seen; I guess it’s just some Ye Olde design nobody is willing to give up. More appropriately, the word, “Rain,” might be changed to “Hurricane, maybe;” “Change” might be better expressed as, “Damn near anything possible;” and “Fair” could be “Damn near anything possible, but most likely gnarly wind.”

Back to the above photo. Note that the indicator has BOTTOMED OUT on the scale. Apparently it can’t even measure how low the pressure is. Here’s another picture of it.


The silver dial is a moveable indicator that we use to mark the pressure when it is changing. I’ve moved it to where it was before we left for the states a month ago, and even that is totally weirdly low. I seem to remember when we got the thing in San Diego and installed it and watched it as it measured pressure around Baja and Mexico, it used to hover in the 995-1005 range.

I’m guessing that it is broken. This can’t be right. There is a hurricane heading toward Baja right now but it is very far from us. There is no atypical weather around us at all.

Anyway, you might also note that the temperature when I took the photo (in the cabin, in the shade) was 92 degrees; the time was around 10am. The humidity was 60; it is now showing around 63%.

This part is most definitely not broken.

Jeff’s Wedding

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Lexington Blood Bank funny sign

(Clearly the local Lexington Blood Bank was feeling the need to keep up with the Presbyterianses.)

If everyone we know isn’t already totally confused as to where we are and whose wedding we went to, here’s more out-of-order wedding stuff. This time the wedding was Joshua’s cousin Jeff’s and the place was Lexington, KY. We drove straight back to Kentucky from Cape Cod, stopping only once for a goggle-eyed walk through the sporting goods store ‘Cabela’s’ in Pennsylvania, home to the majority of taxidermied wildlife in North America.

Our arrival heralded the beginning of a massive takeover of Jeff and Sarah’s house and lives for the next five days. Parents and friends and friend’s wives and husbands and husband’s aunts and cousin’s children started arriving right and left. Gratefully, generous amounts of bourbon and fried chicken were at hand, making introductions smooth and familial relations foggy.

Ezra and Miles at the wedding rehearsal

Ezra and Miles practicing being bored during the wedding rehearsal.

Ezra and Miles at the wedding

Being bored for the real thing.

Jeff and Sarah cutting the cake

Cake cutting; the kids had recovered from their ceremony stupor and were highly alert for this part of the deal.

(P.S. If anyone is looking for a job; I think the Kentucky Inn is hiring.)

Kentucky Inn Funny sign


Let’s Cooking! Chanterelle Pasta

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Maine Chanterelles

Kurt’s mom sent us on a hike off someplace in Maine to a fire tower where the blueberries grow. If we were good little bunnies and didn’t eat all the berries, there would be a pie in our future. Kurt was armed with some plastic grocery bags. We parked the car, chatted with the previous hikers (“Absolutely gorgeous! You’ve been here before right? Such a great day for it!” etc.), and made it about thirty feet into the path before Joshua got his mushroom eyes on and spotted some chanterelles glowing from the forest. Joshua and I turned into raving lunatics and bolted off into the underbrush to collect. The glory of discovery lasted around thirty seconds unfortunately and I had to bolt or be consumed entirely by mosquitoes. I sprinted back to the trail to pace around with Kurt until Joshua emerged, a wild look in his eye. Chanterelles! In Maine! Who knew; it had been so long since we had found the little guys, and this variety was very similar to the variety you find in Oregon rather than in California (a much superior variety in our opinion—petite, fragrant, and clean). We were pretty excited. Kurt and I continued on (we were on a hike, after all) while Joshua darted off the path here and there every time he thought he saw something. And we kept finding more chanterelles; before too long we had amassed almost one plastic vegetable bagful, probably three pounds. We never found any blueberries; I guess it just wasn’t the right season.

What to make. What to make…

Answer: Pasta with Chanterelle Cream Sauce.

What you need:

Pasta. We used a sort of large unbent macaroni that wasn’t penne. I’d probably choose farfalle if I had to pick one type out of thousands.
Bunch of chanterelles which you picked fresh the same day after going on a lovely hike that had a view but no blueberries.
Olive oil.
Butter. What, did you think this would be a healthy recipe?
Cream. Get a big thing of it just in case. You can always use the remainder to put on coffee or mix with cream soda for a delicious snack.
Chopped pecans.
Garlic. Think sublime; too much garlic tends to overrun chanterelles. You want the garlic smished.
Chervil which you picked fresh from your herb garden. (Oh right! 1. Plant herb garden. 2. Go chanterelle hunting…) Chop it finely.
Salt and pepper. Al gusto.

How to do it:

First, you need to clean the chanterelles. This involves cutting off the ends of the stalks and brushing off the dirt (a paintbrush works if you don’t already have one of those froofy mushroom brushes). It is best to not clean them by washing because mushrooms will absorb water like crazy and soggy chanterelles pretty much suck. Use water only in extreme emergency. Also, cut out any weird sections (burrowing insects or slug slime, depending upon how squeamish or protein-hating you are), double-check your species, etc. Then slice into thin sections.

Dry sauté the mushrooms. Chanterelles have a lot of water in them even if you didn’t wash them and if you just start cooking with them without releasing some of it, they just end up soggy. Get a dry skillet hot (so water droplets dance around) and toss in the mushrooms. Add a bit of salt to help them release the water if you want. Stir around a bit and pretty soon they will start releasing a shocking amount of yellow liquid. They will also smell really good. Pour off the liquid and reserve and continue stirring them around until they stop releasing water more or less and the rest of the liquid has evaporated. Take mushrooms off burner and set aside. I chopped them finely for our cream sauce (you could leave them in slices or even puree them with some of the cream depending upon what texture you want.)

Put pasta on to boil.

Heat up some oil and butter in the skillet; add garlic and after a moment, add the chopped pecans. Toss these around in the oil until the pecans are a nice toasty consistency (I’m a pecan novice—I just tasted them to see if they were all crunchy and buttery and called it done); don’t burn the garlic either. Add the chopped chanterelles and toss around in the butter/pecan/oil/garlic. Now stir in the cream and reserve mushroom broth. We added enough cream to make the sauce look ‘right.’ (If you are looking for a smoother sauce consistency, you would need to set the pecans aside before adding the mushrooms, puree the sauce, then add them back in last—or sprinkle them on. Or puree them too. Whatever.) We let the sauce simmer very gently for a few minutes then called it done. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.

Put pasta in your preferred serving bowl and pour sauce over it. Sprinkle chervil on the top to make it look pretty. Lamely, we did not manage to get a photo of the finished product.

Cape Cod

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Baby Riley eats the prunes. Cape Cod

She looks rather pleased about those prunes (those are prunes, by the way, squashed into a consistency that one does normally not expect prunes to assume); it’s hard to believe but she was screaming bloody murder earlier.

After Maine, we headed south to Boston where a post-wedding east-coast family gathering was taking place at Elise’s parent’s house. I probably mentioned that my brother Sage married Elise in June, but I’m a loser and didn’t post any photos. I guess I was under the assumption that nearly everyone I know who reads this was in fact at the wedding. Not so, it turns out, so here are the photos you all have been waiting for.

Sage, Elise and Riley. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The day after the party we all headed to Cape Cod, where Elise’s family has a small cottage. The weather was somewhat uncooperative but we were able to take some good walks after it stopped raining and were even persuaded to dip ourselves in water that was less than 84 degrees.

The last night we were there, we went over to the outer ocean side just before sunset and there were dozens of people fishing in the surf. Bluefish is evidently something that is fished regularly off Cape Cod and nowhere else. People were pulling in large fish everywhere we looked. One guy who was fishing right in front of us hooked one and when he reeled it in, he gave it to us. Pretty exciting. We split up into two groups: put-the-baby/clean-the-fish and get-the-groceries and met home later to cook dinner. I believe everyone was very glad Joshua was there to gut and clean it.

small fry on the beach. Cape Code

Along the surfline on the beach were zillions of tiny dead fish. It was very odd; they were all perfect and glittering things and the colors were so bright against the tan-colored sand, like little fishy sapphires.

We left early-ish the next day for the drive back to Lexington. Here’s a photo of what the sky was doing somewhere across southern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Sky Freeway

Being Dumb for Dummies

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

time share vacations for dummys

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell