Today doesn’t exist for me

Because of travel and crossing the International Date Line…Boarded plane in LAX on November 19th and 10 hours later landed in Fiji on November 21.

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Heading out for a dive, Bora Bora: 2008

This is my third year in a row cruising  the South Pacific; first time to Fiji. On the itinerary this year: 3 different islands in Fiji, Tonga, 2 different Cook Islands, Bora Bora, Taha’a, Moorea, and then finish in Papeete. I’m not a big fan of cruising, but I obviously like this ship. It’s small, 300 passengers, and geared towards activity (diving, hiking, snorkeling, waterskiing, windsurfing, kayaking).

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Getting ready to snorkel in Rangiroa, 2007

It’s like summer camp because I get to meet up with with friends I met from the years before.

There’s Laksman from Sri Lanka. He’s a bartender on the ship. I met him the first year I was on board and last year we went ran together in the Marquesas and on Moorea.

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Running on Nuku Hiva, Marquesas with Laksman, 2008

There’s the Marina Crew. Martin L. (Montreal) who was my scuba instructor, Robert (Montreal), who was my water ski instructor, Martin B. (Montreal)  and Frederick (France), two more dive instructors, and Emily (Belgium) the travel desk coordinator. (All names pronounced the French way).

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Dominique, Me, Robert: 2007

There’s Dominique (Tahiti) who is the dive master. He wasn’t on board last year, but will be back this year. The crew changes based on contract length and vacations.

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The Marina Crew and Me, 2008

There’s the Engine Room Crew. They are all from Croatia. We would hang out at one of the ship’s bars at night and sometimes meet up on hikes.

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The Engine Room Crew, 2008

There’s Alex, one of the sommeliers. He’s from France.

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Desmond, Laksman, and Alex, 2008

Although I won’t see them this year, I’ve also made friend with other passengers who I’ve kept in touch through Facebook: Patrick from Eugene, Vanessa from Santa Monica, Olivier from France.  I love meeting new people. I wonder who I will meet this year.

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Kayaking in Taha'a, 2007

So what happened on November 20, 2009? Anything exciting?

Chocolate Macarons

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Now that I’ve made macarons once…I’m addicted to making them. They’re so easy!
In the past I used to either throw away unused egg whites or make an egg white omelet. This is so exciting because now I have a use for them!

I made chocolate ones to get the second basic macaron recipe (the first were the vanilla ones I made for Daring Bakers) out of the before moving on to different flavors.

The recipe for the cookiecomes from Pierre Hermé via Gourmandise Desserts, who taught the macaron class I took at Surfas. For the filling I used the last of the Peanut Buttercream I had on hand.

You can find the recipe for the Peanut Buttercream HERE.

Chocolate Macarons

From Gourmandise Desserts
  • 1 1/3 cups (140 grams) almond flour
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (250 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) cocoa powder
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  1. Place the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in food processor and process for a few seconds until well combined.
  2. Beat the egg whites until you almost reach stiff peak stage.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients into the egg whites in three parts using a large spatula. Continue to fold until mixture forms a ribbon–batter falls uniformly off the tip of the spatula.
  4. Pipe macarons onto parchment or silcone lined cookie sheets. Let the cookies dry for at least an hour {I let mine dry for almost 3 hours}.
  5. Preheat oven to 425° F oven. Place cookies inside and immediately turn oven down to 350° F. Leave the door ajar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Once you’ve removed the cookies from the oven, pour a few tablespoons of boiling water underneath the liner. Wait two minutes and peel off the paper.

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

A chocolate cookie with a surprise kick: Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Really, really good. You take a bite and taste the deep chocolate flavor and cinnamon and then you chew a bit and the cayenne pepper punch hits your taste buds.  It’s unexpected. It’s a surprise. It’s good. Try it. You will like it.

You can find the recipe HERE.

{twd} sugar-topped spice cookies (+ cinnamon ice cream)

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Sugar-Topped  Molasses Spice Cookies: A perfectly spiced cookie that was a big hit with everyone.

I baked them for a Junk-Food Halloween hike to the top of Mt. Baldy. Other people brought Halloween candy, I brought homemade cookies.

For home use, I made them into ice cream sandwiches with the Cinnamon Ice Cream from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.

Thank you to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for hosting this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection. For the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book.

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Happy National Bundt Day!

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Today, November 15, is National Bundt Day. The only reason I know it’s National Bundt Day is because one of my blogging friends, Mary from The Food Librarian. She chose to celebrate by baking and blogging a bundt a day for the 30 days leading up to today. She really, really, really likes bundts and named her blogathon–I Like Big Bundts.

Inspired by Mary, I baked a bundt to celebrate National Bundt Day: Deep Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake. The recipe came from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book. You can find the recipe HERE. As its name implies, it is full of chocolate flavor.

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I’m a little late writing this post because yesterday I completed my longest hike ever. I hiked to the top of San Gorgonio, which at 11,501.5 feet is the highest peak in Sounthern California. Not satisfied with one peak, my hiking group and I  bagged two additional peaks: Big Horn (3rd highest, 10,997 feet) and Dragons Head Peak (4th highest, 10,866 feet). It was a tough and challenging hike, 19+ miles total. We started at 6:30 am and made it back to our cars in the dark at 5:30 pm.

Here’s a short video I shot from the top of Big Horn: