Friday, July 31, 2009

Report Back From San Juan Island

This last week I was on vacation. I went to San Juan Island just north of Seattle where you have to take a ferry to get there. I visited Bellingham, WA first to look at a school there. I am planning on going back to school so that was my first stop. Just a few miles south of Bellingham is a beautiful state park that borders the bay. On the rocks you can find purple starfish. One got caught out of the water and was near death when we found it and put it back in the water.

The ferry in Anacortes was our next stop. A view of a quaint shore with rocks and old piers and wildlife allowed our wait to go quickly. There were blue herons flying and dancing all over which I tried my hardest to catch on camera. I had never seen so much activity from these beautiful creatures before. 

Under every other rock was a crab or tiny hermit crabs. The algae the lined the rocks and piers and everything else along the shore was intricate and colorful, displaying a different world the shore sometimes sees when the tide is in.

While on the ferry, but not yet moving, we discovered a rookery for comerants in the metal framework for the ferry gates. Nests were crammed into tiny spaces while older babies and their parents interacted. I find these birds to be intriguing, but as babies they aren’t the cutest.

The baby seagulls on the other hand, were adorable. We had to rush to the top of the ferry to get a decent shore of these birds and we got there just in time, since the ferry was off for the islands.

San Juan Island is my favorite, since the west shore is a great spot to look for orcas. Once we got to town, we headed in that direction. Almost as soon as we could start looking for orcas, we saw one. He was just swimming by, but it’s an orca! Just seeing this breath taking animals enough to make your day. We followed the orca, running to a good viewing spot of Lime Kiln Park, also know as whale watch park. We got there just in time to watch him go by and get some more pictures.

That night we went back to town in Anacortes after setting up tent at San Juan Park. We read about a pizza place which offered a vegan option, but they only took cash so we ended up going to Golden Triangle, a Thai place. Last time I went to a Thai restaurant I was unfamiliar with, I discovered there was only one menu item I could eat. My first question at the restaurant was vegan options. I was so happy when the owner knew the word vegan, and when I ordered, let me know if something was not vegan. We ended up getting vegetables and tofu with peanut sauce and vegetables and tofu with a garlic sauce. This was the freshest tasting Thai food I’ve had in a long time! The vegetables tasted like they came right out of someone’s garden and included a wide variety of mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and more. I recommend anyone who is looking for a good place to eat while in Friday Harbor, Washington, go to this place! So good!

The rest of the trip we ate sandwiches. A ban on campfires was announced the next day so the other food I was planning was out. I love campfires so I don’t have propane or anything else. Luckily I like sandwiches.

The last full day on San Juan Island was spent with a tour guide from The Whale Museum. She was so knowledgeable and I asked her questions about her field and she was so inspiring to pursue a new career (I’m looking into aquatic sciences). This island and this environment brings me to life so the idea of spending a career around this is thrilling. I didn’t get my close ups with the J-pod (orca family) like I did last time while kayaking, but this was a really great trip!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This is the month of orange.  I was thinking it was just an orange day, with my friend Liz's birthday and I was making her an orange purse and orange spice cake.  Then I realized orange is all around me.  My cat is orange, my bike is orange, my water bottle is orange, I recently sewed an orangish-yellow top, I got an orange toothbrush from the dentist, the sun, which is orange at time, has been shining strong.  See, lots of orange.  Plus, Liz loves orange, which is why I decided to make her an orange purse for her birthday.  She also loves purses.

Liz requested a long time ago for me to make her an orange spice cake for her birthday.  Some time long ago I guess I made one and she's been requesting it ever since.  I don't remember making that cake she fell in love with, but when I made this cake I re-fell in oranges.  I decided to use fresh squeezed oranges and they were so good!  I accidently ate too many of the oranges so I had to go back to the store to get more.  

Orange Spice Cupcakes

1/2 cup Soy Margarine
1 1/2 cups Organic Raw Sugar
1/2 cup Silken Tofu, blended
1 1/2 cups Orange Juice
Zest of One Orange
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 Tb Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves

Orange Cream Frosting:
1/3 cup Soy Margarine
2 cups Powdered Sugar
4-6 Tb Orange Juice
Orange Zest for topping

Cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Add the vanilla and tofu and blend some more.  Pour in the orange juice and blend until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and spices.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and blend until just mixed in.  Stir in the zest with a spatula since it will cling to beaters.  Fill cupcake cups about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Makes 18 cupcakes.

Frosting:  Blend the powdered sugar and margarine together.  Add the orange juice, a little at a time, until you reached the desired consistency.  Apply the frosting to cooled cupcakes and sprinkle orange zest on top.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cool Down With Creamsicles

Although now the weather is fairly mild, last week the sun was shining and I had to get out my fan to find comfort in me house.  I know it was time to start creating desserts to help cool me down.

This photo does not really give this sweetness justice.  The creamsicle has a mild sweetness, creaminess and really allows the flavor of the fruit you use to come through.  The first time I made this I used strawberries.  So yummy!  For this trial I used cherries.  I don't think you can go wrong with what fruit you use and you can get creative with what you add.  Maybe next time I'll try pineapple and coconut.

Cherry Creamsicles

1 Box Nori Silken Tofu (Firm)
2 cups Cherries (or fruit/berry of choice)
1/2 cup Organic Unrefined Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor.  Pour the mixture into a cup, ice cube tray, popsicle holders and place in freezer.  Allow to freeze for several hours.