Sunday, October 3, 2010

Onion Soup with Apple Cider

Today is the epitome of what I like to call a "Soup Day". When the weather turns brisk, fresh apple cider abounds and you're in the mood for a belly-warmer, this soup is darn near perfect. I don't recall where I found the original recipe (maybe Bon Appetit?), but it's a keeper. I've modified it for vegetarian friends by omitting the butter and using only olive oil and vegetable broth and it's still great. I typically use beef broth instead of the chicken the original recipe calls for, as I think it imparts a richer flavor.

Onion Soup with Apple Cider

4 T unsalted butter

3 T olive oil

6 large onions (3-4 if using very large Vidalia or sweet onions), halved and thinly sliced

3 C chicken broth (alternatively, beef or vegetable broth work well too)

2 ½ C apple cider

12 large sprigs fresh thyme

Chopped fresh thyme for garnish

Melt oil and butter over med-high heat in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Saute onions for 20 mins. Or until caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add broth, cider, and sprigs, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 30 mins. Discard thyme sprigs, pour into serving bowls, and garnish with chopped thyme.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

So you thought politics was in my future

Well, you were right.  I declared my candidacy for City Council(At-Large) on June 30th.  Having met the requirement of gathering 200 signatures from Pawtucket registered voters, I am now a certified candidate.  I will be taking on three incumbent Democrats in a September 14th primary.

The idea of running has been on my mind for some time.  Finally pulling the trigger has resulted in eye-opening experiences for me.  I'm up to the challenge however.  Pawtucket is ready for a new voice on the City Council and I hope to be that voice.  If you're interested in following along, here is my campaign Facebook page.   I also have a website for my campaign, complete with a "donate" button, here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grilled pizza how-to

This grilled pizza recipe is nearly impossible to mess up. It was a huge hit at our housewarming party seven years ago and has been a summer staple of ours ever since!


Grilled Pizza

Prepared bagged dough from grocery store or homemade dough for 1 loaf of bread




2 cans diced tomatoes, drained, and 1-3 ripe fresh tomatoes, diced, with juice (vary proportions according to what is available. Don’t bother seeding and peeling fresh tomatoes – the seeds and skins won’t bother you.

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or to taste)

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Dried Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 Tbs sugar (optional)

Red wine (optional)


Mozzarella cheese (shredded, from grocery store or thinly-sliced fresh)

Fresh basil leaves, sliced in chiffonade or torn

Sliced grilled chicken or pork sausage, chicken breasts, mushrooms, olives, peppers – whatever you like or have handy

Make sauce: Saute garlic in 1-2 Tbs olive oil over med-high heat just until fragrant. Add all tomatoes and simmer over medium to medium-low heat until juices are mostly evaporated and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Season lightly with dried herbs, salt, and pepper as you go – watch the salt if using canned tomatoes. If you like a slightly sweet sauce, add sugar – savory, add wine. Or add it all. I do! Once the sauce is thick, take off heat and set aside, keeping warm.

In the meantime, let the dough come to room temp if chilled, and divide and stretch (lightly flour your hands and dough if you are having trouble stretching) into 4-6 manageable sections no larger than 6” across. Lightly press one side of each section into cornmeal and set aside.

Heat the grill to a moderate temp. Clean and oil/spray the grill.

Assemble your toppings next to the grill so you have them ready and at hand – the grilling goes fast.

When you are set, lay the dough on the hot grill cornmeal-side down. Watch it carefully. The dough will harden and won’t stick, but will start to char quickly. Lift a corner – when it looks good, flip the dough and cover each piece with sauce (another set of hands is helpful here!). After the sauce is down, top with basil (if desired), then cheese, and finally all chosen toppings. Cover the grill just long enough for the cheese to melt and until the dough starts to char on outer edges. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The View From Kestrel

IMG00070-crop A few weeks ago I met a colleague of mine for lunch (weiners, fries, and coffee milk at Rod’s in Warren, RI).  While we do talk shop, our conversations often turn to John’s love of sailing.  Adventures on Narragansett Bay, anchoring in Newport for the Folk or Jazz Festivals, night sailing, slipping through “the gut”.  His stories are always fascinating.  As a Navy man I always take an interest in sea stories.

As we left Rod’s that day John asked if I’d like to sail one evening after work.  “Sure.  Love to”.  We settled on a date and that date came yesterday. 

Fall has started to settle here in New England.  There is a little nip in the air.  We’ve been fortunate to have a couple of glorious days lately, and luckily for me, yesterday was one of them. 

I slipped out of work, fought the downtown Providence traffic, and made my way to East Providence.  Kestrel is moored in Bullock’s Cove in Narragansett Bay.  As I arrived John was rowing the dingy back to Kestrel to retrieve his cell phone in case I was calling.  Seeing me he turned around and headed to shore.  Safely on the dingy we made our way to Kestrel. 

I don’t know too much about sailboats, but I do know that Kestrel is 34 feet in length, has a nice wide beam (plenty of room to walk along side the cabin, has a full cabin (head, dining table, cooktop, room for my 6’5” frame to stand upright and not hit my head, and sleeps six).  It even has a hot and cold outdoor shower.  Really a  nice boat.

After securing my valuables in the “dry bag” John readied her for sail.  We motored out (Kestrel has a nice diesel engine) to the center of the channel so we could hoist the sails.  John gave me instructions and the helm.  I held her pointed into the wind and John unfurled the sails.  With sails hoisted we turned about and headed down Narragansett Bay. 

I remained at the helm with John instructing me as to how to hold the tack.  Satisfied we were safely in the channel and having a nice breeze across our port stern, John cut the engines. 

And then there was -- Absolute silence. 

John uttered, “I just love it when I cut the engines.  It’s so peaceful.”  And, it was.  Not an hour after I left the hectic pace of work and the traffic congestion of the city, here I was sailing, with the only sound being that of the wind passing over the sails. 

IMG00068 00000

John broke out the cold beers and we continued down the Bay.  He shared stories of past adventures on the bay (including a rescue he and his son assisted with in the dark of night) and he educated me on the art of sailing.  It was fascinating.  “Ready about”  “Hard alee”.  Another successful tack.  A few more tacks and we were passing Conimicut Light

John has a tradition that as they pass Conimicut Light that they call to shore on the radio (and now with cell).  I’m happy to say I was aboard Kestrel when John made the first International Call from Kestrel as we passed Conimicut Light. 

Further down the Bay we sailed.  Patience, then Prudence Islands to our starboard.  Waving to fishermen and other sailors.  Watching the regatta as they rounded the mark.  The sun set and dusk was upon us.  One last tack and we came about.  Time to head home.  Darkness surrounded us by now, but the skyline of Providence was just one of many beacons.  We made our way north, Colt State Park in the distance now to our starboard.  Up past Rumstick Point, Rhode Island Country Club, Nayett Point.  Another pass by Conimicut Light.  Gaspee Pt to our port.  Bullock Point to our starboard. 

Just past our return past Conimicut Light we lost the wind.  We motored the rest of the way back.  No worries.  The awesome sights of the city, the shoreline, boats drawing us into their searchlights, drowned out any rumble from the diesel.  

After a safe, and somewhat easy approach to the mooring we secured Kestrel to her mooring.  We secured her and sat down to enjoy a snack and a last beer.  Although we were only 100 yards or less from the shore there was dead silence.  With the wind dying down, the Bay was also silent and still.  John told me that when he and his wife often return from an evening sail they secure to the mooring and then have the discussion, “stay aboard for the night?”  I can see how tempting that must be. 


After the short row back to shore it was back to the real world.  I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure.  Thanks John.  The view from Kestrel is like no other.  I am so grateful to have experienced it, and so jealous, as well. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Boater’s Beach – Time with Good Friends

Sally and I were fortunate to be invited to a party at “Boater’s Beach” in Westport, MA. Our hosts, Tanya and Bruce, really know how to throw a good beach party. CIMG1194

We started at a small dock in Westport where Tanya and Bruce awaited. Their Boston Whaler loaded and waiting. After meeting Al and Kelly, and their daughter Ava, we were off to the beach. Our chauffeur navigated the harbor and after a short ride delivered us to our destination. The beach was full of boats and beachgoers, but none could match the setup our hosts had prepared for us. Well stocked coolers, table, blankets, grill, and food.

We had a terrific afternoon and evening drinking (responsibly, of course), eating, frolicking in the water of the Westport River. But as sundown approached it was time to pack up (gotta cool the grill, however (see Bruce’s method below) and head home. CIMG1198Of course, our hosts had other ideas and convinced all concerned to join them at their wonderful home for some post beach libations and food.

We loaded up the boat, ladies in the bow, mCIMG1209en to the stern, and I snapped this wonderful shot.

(I’m sure some are wondering where’s Una? She decided an afternoon with Nana and Gramps sounded more interesting. I’m certain it had nothing to do with the “brownies bribe” Nana offered.)

The evening turned to night, and our hosts just kept on delivering. A little wine, some espresso martini’s, and yummy dinner. The midnight hour struck and the finishing touches were put on a simply wonderful day. Tanya and Bruce, you guys rock. Kelly and Al it was such a pleasure to meet you (and Ava, too). We look forward to getting together again soon.

Thanks again…John and Sally

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Announcing The Pawtucket Wiki

As I’ve mentioned previously here on this blog I’ve tried to become more involved in my community.  One thing the City of Pawtucket lacks is a user-friendly website for residents and visitors to find pertinent information.  With this in mind I have assisted a fellow Pawtucket blogger (The Bucket Blog) in the creation of Pawtucket NOW.  It was designed to be a site where the actual community that is Pawtucket would contribute to.  While a handful of “bucketeers” joined us, it never really took off.   The concept was based on the wikispot for Davis, CA.  Unfortunately, the MediaWiki format of the current Pawtucket NOW did not seem to work for such a collaborative effort.

logo I have therefore created a new Pawtucket Wiki using the simpler wikispot software.  Pawtucket Wiki is “A community edited website”.  It’s not mine.  I don’t maintain it.  I merely planted the seed.  It’s up to the Pawtucket community to grow it.  There will be an event calendar of anything happening in and around Pawtucket.  Pages on local establishments, including restaurants.  City history, geography, demographics, political arena, etc.  Anything and everything that pertains to Pawtucket. 

Lots of pages are blank at this point, but the structure to get this started is there.  If you’re reading this blog and are a fellow “bucketeer” please stop by at the new Pawtucket Wiki.  Even if you don’t live in Pawtucket, but have something to contribute (restaurant review, perhaps?) stop on by and take a look…and, don’t forget to contribute something. 

The link for the wiki is:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just for the halibut...

I first made this recipe for our housewarming party back in 2003. It was a huge hit then, but I hadn't thought of doing it again until I saw some halibut on sale last week and decided to give it another go. This is an absolutely fabulous summer recipe, quick to prepare, healthy and really, really good!

The marinade is based on a Cooking Light recipe from years back, tweaked just a bit.

Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Halibut (serves 3-4)

2 fresh halibut steaks, 1 to 1.5 inches thick (approx. 1.5 lbs), cut into 1" chunks (I leave the skin on)
For marinade:
1/2 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate (frozen OJ will also work)
1 tsp grated lime rind
1/4-1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Red or green bell peppers, sliced into 1" chunks (optional)

Stir all marinade ingredients together in large non-reactive bowl until well mixed. Add fish, stirring to coat well. marinate 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Thread onto skewers (through the skin to help hold the pieces together, alternating with peppers if desired), and cook on well-oiled grill until fish flakes easily.

I served this with spanish rice, spiked with chopped tomatoes and a bit of lime juice... wonderful!