Holiday Shopping Season Kick-Off

Recently I made my annual trip to Brentwood for what I consider the start of my Christmas season. The primary purpose is to order our Christmas cards from Crane & Co. but also to spend some quality time browsing and shopping in one of my all-time favorite stores: Haven & Co. 

One of my all-time favorite stores

One of my all-time favorite stores

Owner Cindy Williams offers an overwhelming array of the loveliest gifts for the holidays and year-round.  I was pleased to learn of their recent expansion so now I can order my cards from their stationery boutique right next door.

Right this way for some of the best holiday gifts of the season!

Right this way for some of the best holiday gifts of the season!

Haven & Co's gift wrapping is elegant

Haven & Co's gift wrapping is elegant

Be warned: you may just want everything in the store!

Be warned: you may just want everything in the store!

What Christmas traditions do you keep?

My most popular dessert – on land and sea

Hands down the most popular dessert I make is my Mother’s brownies.

The recipe, originally called “Fudge Pie,” is from the 1933 Principia Mother’s cookbook Kitchenology.  The book was published to raise money to build the Principia College campus in Elsah, Illinois. 

I just looked at the original recipe, and saw that the pecans were my mother’s addition.  She loved nuts as much as I do. 

It’s supposed to be made in a pie pan and cut into pie shaped pieces but she always made it as brownies in an 8 x 8 square – and so do I. 

Served with my homemade vanilla ice cream – there is nothing better.  And you can freeze them.

It may seem like a cheap present, but I actually make these brownies for a couple of my friends as Christmas presents. 

I often take these brownies out on the boat – they travel well, and if we don’t devour them all aboard, I will freeze them and keep them on the boat. 

Mother’s Brownies – a.k.a. Fudge Pie

Melt in a double boiler:

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate

¾ cup butter

Let it cool and add:

1 ½ cups sugar

3 beaten eggs

1 t. vanilla

¾ cup flour

¾ cup chopped pecans

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  

I'd love to know if you make these and how you like them. Do you have a favorite family dessert recipe to share?

Cooking Aboard

When people learn that John is an avid fisherman and that we have a 45 foot sportfisher, they ask me if I like to fish. 

I don’t fish but I love to boat, which includes preparing and serving meals for hungry fisherman and other guests.  

This is our second sportfisher, and what I’ve learned is that cooking on a boat sort of like camping in an RV: The galley is teeny weeny and everyone always seems to be hungry. 

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When we had our first boat Serenity, I learned the hard way to use plastic and paper plates and glasses – only. 

I was so excited to outfit Serenity’s galley – I bought beautiful white square plates in dinner and salad size and some pretty white mugs. 

After an extremely rough crossing back from the back side of Catalina (think 20 foot swells for 7 hours), everything ended up smashed on the floor of the salon.  We were grateful that was about the extent of the damage. 

So when outfitting Clicker, I went straight for the plastic plates and glasses.  Wooden bowls are wonderful on board.  I have two large ones for chips and salads and smaller ones for mixed nuts, dips, and salsa. 

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We are in the process of re-decorating the interior.  The new refrigerator was just installed.  I can’t wait to fill it!

Super Jet Still Going Super Strong

I just visited my 24-year old retired horse, Jet, this morning in beautiful Santa Clarita.  (John always called him “SuperJet”). 

salad joy Jet 1.jpg

Jet has the best retirement possible.  He gets to graze on green grass with his pals during the day, then return to his over-sized in-and-out stall at night. 

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I call it The Ritz-Carlton of horse barns. They even have cameras in the stalls!  I am continually grateful to be able to keep him here.  The management is excellent and he is healthy and content. 

When I visit – maybe once a month or so – he is always glad to see me.  But because he is so happy in his retirement, he is never sad to see me go. 

There is no better feeling than knowing he is looked after and cared for so well.  

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Jet was my first horse and will always hold a special place in my heart.  He taught me how to ride…and so much more!