Friday, July 31, 2009

Ace of Cakes Caribbean Style

I told Deneen a couple days ago that it stinks that in the last two weeks there has been nothing exciting enough to write a blog about. I have tried a couple times to sit down and plod through something, but to no avail.

Martin, Lucas, and I have been playing Friday nights at our Fridays at the Museum parties. On Wednesday we played a private party for a large group of divers at the Bohio. Last weekend we went diving on Saturday and to the beach most of the day on Sunday. I spent 48 hours wearing nothing but a swimming suit.

The biggest thing lately is that we watch the Food Network channel every night and then get really hungry.

I don't know if you have ever watched the Ace of Cakes, but this is now one of our favorite shows. I had not even heard of it until Deneen came down in June. The last time I was on Provo I bought several cake mixes and icing. We watch Ace of Cakes and then we try and make cake.

Now, we are not making ace of cakes cakes. We are still not to the point where we can consistently make a two-layer cake that cooks even and tastes good. But this week we made a red velvet cake that in one layer we substituted coffee for the 1 1/4 cup water and in the other we put in a little rum cream. The filling layer was strawberry jam and we iced the cake with double chocolate chip. This was the best cake we have made yet. We have eaten it every day for breakfast and dinner.

Like the cakes, the game of making Food Network food on Grand Turk is trying to find ingredients on Grand Turk. We decided that if I was on the Next Food Network Star I would have a television show where you found a delicious recipe and then made it with only half the correct ingredients.

Yesterday we had rice and bean burritos for dinner. This is the fourth time this we have had burritoes week because J&J got in a bunch of large flour tortillas which you can usually never find here. We bought two large packs. Martin found an Emeril Lagasse recipe for easy enchilada sauce and we decided to kick our rice and beans up a notch.

2 table spoons vegetable oil (check)
2 table spoons flour (check)
2 cups Chicken broth (substitute two cups water with four table spoons chicken and bacon fat)
1/4 cup chili powder (this seems crazy so I dumped what I thought would be enough)
10 oz tomato paste (6 oz can found at last minute in the Dominican store)
Oregano (check)
Coriander (not a chance)

Though Deneen thought the tomato paste tasted old, I think the sauce was quite successful. Cooked up easy and well, tasted better than the same burrito did a couple nights ago.

So, nothing too exciting, but that is life lately.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

DECR Junior Wardens Program

This week the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources held their Junior Warden Program at the museum. Lucas and Davis participated for the week.

There is quite a difference between youth programs on a small island in the Caribbean and anything in the US. Ten youth ranging from twelve to fourteen years old participated in the program. They spent the week doing boating and water sport activities that anywhere else would have been seen as a liability risk. Where else would you put ten kids on a boat and take them to an uninhabited island to release an endangered iguana without any parental signatures?

Well, maybe when I signed the registration it released the DECR from any indemnity.

On Wednesday they dissected lion fish. That's right, the fish that have poisonous spines. Look at Davis - no gloves. This was cool - I could not help from pushing kids out of the way to clip spines and cut open fish guts. At the end of the day we took the lion fish home and put them in the new BBQ smoker that I made out of trash. The smoker was made from an old water pressure tank. I cut a door in it, then went to the dump and found old metal grating, which was cut out to make the grill. The lion fish sat in the smoker for an hour and came out as a smoky glazed white fish filled with small bones and toxic cartilage. That which does not kill you makes you stronger.

On Thursday, the kids did a Discover Scuba program and participated in a 40 foot dive. Davis was the most excited about this and was thrilled he got to dive. The fact that the rest of us got certified last year, and he did not, has been a source of constant contention. Since Thursday all he can talk about is getting certified.
But I don't know. I don't like the idea of my baby underwater.

On Saturday Martin, Lucas, and I went diving - without Davis. We decided that since this might be Martin's last few weeks ever in Grand Turk that we will go diving every Saturday until they leave in August. We also decided to have a BBQ to celebrate Lucas receiving the 2009 DECR Junior Warden best student award. Go figure.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ocean Club

The gig is up about Provo. Deneen would not ever fly over with me last year. I have since learned that this was because she thought it was just like Grand Turk here. Well, its not. This weekend, Deneen left Lucas and Davis on Grand Turk and came to Provo with me to pick up Martin. The new problem is that I have to come to Provo to work, but Deneen thinks we come for vacation.

There is not much good about the current global reccession, except that this year we have been able to stay at some very nice resorts that we would not otherwise.

This weekend we have been at the Ocean Club. This is one of the first beach clubs built on Grace Bay on Provo. I thought that Club Med was the first, but the Ocean Club opened in 1981, four years before Club Med.

The early resorts here are very low rise, eco friendly, beach friendly, and in many ways open air. They were built here before modern amenities were consistently available.

To me, this makes them very cool. There are 115 rooms in ten bungalow styled buildings at the Ocean Club. Between the buildings is a amorphic garden pool with a small gazebo set up with guest-available BBQ grills. At the other end of the compound is the rectangular ocean pool and pool bar.

The rates are in fact very reasonable for Provendinciales, especially considering that you are on Grace Bay beach, one of the top 10 beaches in the world.

The room is nice and clean. We have a delux junior suite with two queen beds and a small kitchenette. The bathroom shows signs of wear and the room is smaller than others, but the screen porch, which is two thirds the size of the room, makes up for everything.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You Had to be There

No, opposite of that. I think had you been there last night would have seemed not that big of a deal to you. But I think it will make a great story. As an aside, a friend emailed this week. At the end of their email they asked if we were still doing music on Grand Turk.

Friday night was our second "Fridays in July" at the museum. Alessio showed up with his percussion rig at 8:00. Conky came about 9:00 to play jimbe. At 9:45 Zeus came to play the ripsaw. This was very cool and new. Not many people came to watch, but we were having fun playing.

About 10:00 someone came over to the museum to say that the business college was having a jerk festival and they were looking for bands to play.

Now, before you make a comment on who the perfect band to play a jerk festival would be, let me stop you. It is old, and it is not funny anymore.

Anyway, we hastily tore down the sound system and moved our musicians party over to the business college. We began our set again and soft rocked the jerk party until 1:30am.

At about 1:00 a couple people in the audience decided they would come on stage and sing. It got crazy after that. My back hurt and my wrists felt like they were going to fall off. Did I tell you we started playing at 8:00?

Five hours is longer than I have ever played before. This is just too long.

Allesio tore his rig down, but they asked if I could leave the sound system up so they could play music. The museum is three blocks away. I took a few things back to the museum.I could not believe how loud the music was they were putting through my small system. And then I started the walk home.

What? Well yes, Deneen took the truck home at midnight.

I walked down to Mitch's half-built house; looked around for a while; stubbed my big toe on unfinished concrete. Though about a mile away now, I could still hear the dance hall mix pumping out of my two 450s.

The second half of the walk home was at least on the beach. The near full moon reflected off the water and the night was bright. About the time I hit the Harrison's house, past the Bohio, I decided to go for a swim. I was about two miles from town now, but I could still hear the music. I looked at my phone. It was now 3:30am.

Our house is about a fifteen to twenty minute walk down the beach from the Harrison's. About half way home the music stopped.

When I got home the house was locked. I thought to myself...who would drive home, leave me an hour walk, and then lock me out...I woke Deneen, found the truck keys, and drove back to town. I arrived back at the business college and loaded my sound system as they were cleaning up.

I returned home about 4:20am, washed my bloody, sandy foot in the tub and went to bed.

This morning we awoke at 6:30 to fly to Provo to pick up Martin from the airport. Short night. My wrists still hurt. My back still hurts. I am working, as usual. Deneen and Martin are both asleep in the hotel room. But its a nice room...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Date Night

Well, maybe it should be date nights!

I never get tired of really cool things here. Last night Deneen and I had a date night at Waterloo, the Governor's residence, for a reception for the officers of the RFA Fort George. Just a small reception for a handful of people, but it was fun. I really like talking to the young Royal Navy officers.

There was one young engineering cadet who was nineteen. I told him that he looked about as old as my son, and I would not trust my son to be in charge of a ship or any kind of weapons system.

Tonight, Deneen and I left the boys at home again and went to the Pirates Choice restaurant (which I like to refer to as Pirate Pete's), which is new. They have a "romantic couples dinner" on Wednesday nights. Friends told us about it a couple weeks ago. We went last week and again this week. We were the only couple having the "romantic dinner," but doesn't that make it more romantic?

Well, it makes a nice night out to talk about things, like the future. Or like Martin. Neither, of which is really romantic.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Red, White, and Bust

Today is the Fourth of July. The day to celebrate freedom and Independence. Well, kind of, but not here.

Here we are still under the rule of the colonial oppressor. The Navigation Acts and the Stamp Tax evidently were just the cost of doing business. We still pay the stamp tax, in fact. When I got my police check done a few weeks ago, I had to buy a ten dollar stamp from the post office to affix on my application.


Well I guess since I have a US tax exclusion that nets me quite a dollar maybe I should whisper.

"no taxation and no representation, please."

Anyway, whats the bust? Last night was the largest party of the year in Columbus, Ohio. I tell people here that the "4th" is our biggest holiday. So big in fact that it starts on the "3rd."

We threw a party at the museum last night. It was a musician's jam. No one came. Well, that is not entirely true. It was me playing with five percussionists. So a good practice is what you could call it. But, it was cool and fantastic, and great. We have not played since May. It was great.

Today I was going to teach Lucas how to spear fish. As an aside, this was my first time spear fishing, too. We were then going to have a big fish BBQ in the new smoker I made last week out of trash (soon as I get it painted I will post a picture).

Deneen asked why in the world I was spending so much time working on a BBQ smoker. She does not get it. Because whenever anyone comes over for a BBQ I am going to show them the BBQ smoker I made out of trash and they are going to say...

"I can't believe you made that BBQ smoker!"

And that will make me feel cool.

But I digress. So we took a day trip to the east side of the island today. We loaded up the car and drove out to the deserted 1980s hotel, Coral Gardens. The water is usually rough on the east side but there are lots of coral heads. Lucas and I swam for an hour and twenty minutes. We did not find a singel coral head and we did not see one fish.

So much for the 4th of July BBQ. I am exhausted and we have all had too much sun. I thawed the pork chops that the Harrisons left us when they went back to the states last week. Dinner will be on before you are finished reading this post.