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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Two Kingfishers and Ciabatta Pizza

Kingfisher: New warmth, sunshine, prosperity and love.  Cycle of power: Winter Solstice and Season. ~Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, Llewlleyn Pubishers, 1995

My camera is pants, but you still can see the Kingfisher's brilliant beauty.
      In Greek mythology there is a legend of a woman named Halcyone and her husband Ceyx. Shortly after their wedding, Ceyx had to make a voyage. A storm arose during the voyage and Ceyx was drowned. Every day that he was gone, Halcyone walked the shores of the beaches, longing for her beloved. After several months the body of Ceyx washed ashore. Halcyone was so filled with grief, she threw herself into the ocean. The gods were moved by her love and grief, and they turned Ceyx and Halcyone into Kingfishers. It was declared that the seas would be calm and the sun would shine for seven days before and seven days after the Winter solstice. This time came to be known as the Halcyon days. In our modern times, all calm, sunlit days upon the water are considered Halcyon days. 
     The Kingfisher is an ancient symbol of peace and prosperity and the female is always more colorful than the male--a reversal from the way most birds are commonly colored. 
Empty moorings at Kingswood Junction
     After resting up a few days in Lapworth we cruised back into the basin to dump our rubbish and fill up with water. Yesterday morning offered a break in the thick fog punctuated by rain that has swaddled the country for days on end. We decided to make a move while we could enjoy it in relative comfort.
     The Kingswood Junction 48 hour moorings as well as the 14 day moorings now designated four month winter moorings were completely empty, and not a single boat other than NB Valerie was on the move.
    While the water tank filled, we stood outside enjoying the crisp, mild weather. Suddenly Les spotted a large rat traversing the nearby low deck wall of the barrel roofed house fronting the canal basin. I retrieved my binoculars and sure enough, there were several of the brazen things which had clearly made a nest underneath the cottage decking. As we watched they scurried back and forth around the outside perimeter of the cottage, climbing up a low tree stump at one point, for a better view. Creepy!
The barrel Roofed cottage at Kingswood Junction Basin. The water point is off to the right.
Close up of the cottage garden fronting the canal and a rat!
A second Kingfisher!
      We left the basin for the Grand Union main line and cruised south toward Hatton Station--a good place for me with my bad knee, to get the train down to Warwick for another physio appointment. It is also an excellent spot to have Tesco deliver groceries.
     According to our Waterways Routes e-maps, it took us an hour and twenty minutes to cruise four and three quarter miles at an average speed of 3.13 MPH, dropping down to 2.6 MPH when passing the lines of moored boats at Tom 'O' the Woods, and the Middle Warwick Yacht Club.
     As we came out of Shrewley tunnel into a short cutting encompassed by tall banks and trees on both sides, Les spotted a Kingfisher perched on a nearby tree branch. We glided slowly by as I snapped pictures with my crappy camera. We hadn't gone more than 25 yards when we saw another Kingfisher perched along the cut! A two Kingfisher day is a fine day indeed!
     After we moored up, the break in the inclement weather held so while Les sawed lengths of Cherry wood into logs and split them, I made our main meal of the day: Ciabatta Pizza. We love pizza but as most boaters know, it isn't available for delivery to a narrow boat on the move, and store bought pizzas taste like cardboard compared to homemade. It is also difficult to find room to store round pizzas in a small boat fridge, and there is certainly no room in the freezer. Here then is my way of solving these issues

Jaq's Ciabatta Pizza

1 Tesco Bake at Home Ciabatta (This is part baked and in long life packaging which means it stores well until you need it)
1 Jar (190gr) of Sacla Intense Sun Dried Tomato sauce
1 container (130gr) Tesco Finest Pesto and Fresh Basil 
2 Tablespoons (T.) of dried Oregano
2 T. toasted, ground Fennel seeds
2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 bag (150gr) grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
1 bag (250gr) grated Extra Mature Cheddar or cheese of your choice
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into paper thin rounds
1 ripe, red sweet pepper, diced small
1 ripe yellow or green sweet pepper, diced small
100 grams of baby button mushrooms, sliced thin
10 black olives sliced in half
Any other bits and bobs you like on your pizza!

 Prep work:

Run a sink of hot, soapy water to wash up as you go along. Not only is it really a necessity in a small kitchen or galley, it means you will sit down to dinner with all the washing up done except your dinner dishes. 

Image result for small pyrex custard cupsIf you are serving tossed salad with your pizzas, then this is the time to prepare them. I mix the basic bits in a large bowl. Then I put the greens and things in individual salad bowls and finish them up separately as Les like tons of raw onion and some grated carrot on his salad. He dislikes fresh tomatoes and I adore them, along with cucumber and radish. We also use different dressings. Once each salad is made I dress them and set them on the table which I also set now as I won't have time once I get cooking. 

Chop and slice all your toppings. I use small  Pyrex custard cups. I have a set of eight and they work well for mis en place, which means everything in its place. Chopping and prepping ingredients ahead of time allows me to be better organized in a small galley kitchen. It allows me to clean up the cutting board, and tidy up the counter. Everything I need is ready to hand and I can just get on with cooking.
Part baked rolls and breads are brilliant and I never saw their like back in Washington State grocery stores. They keep well until needed and are easy to store. Just pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7/425 F, place the bread on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for seven minutes! Viola--fresh baked bread!
While the bread is baking, toast 2 T. of fennel seeds in a small pan without any oil on high heat. Be careful not to burn them. Pour the toasted seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind them into powder. Sauté your vegetable toppings. Les and I like different things. He prefers onion, mushrooms, and peppers. I like black olives, mushrooms and peppers, so I sauté each person's toppings individually, in 2 T. of olive oil until the veg is soft but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. Two minutes before removing them from the stove, sprinkle with 1 T. of oregano, and 1 T. toasted, ground fennel seed. Stir in, and remove from heat after two minutes and set aside in a bowl. 

When the bread is baked, remove it from the oven and set it aside while you finish sautéing the veg. While the bread is still warm but no longer too hot to handle, slice in half length wise and lay each piece side by side on the baking sheet. 
Spread as much Sacla Intense Sun Dried Tomato sauce as you prefer over each side of the Ciabatta. Sprinkle fresh diced garlic across the tops, and follow up with very small spoonfuls of Pesto. Using a small rubber spatula, make sure to spread everything evenly across the surface of the bread. 

 Sprinkle finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano over the sauce on each side of the Ciabatta, then top each with the sautéed vegetables.
Sprinkle shredded cheese over the tops of both sides. Be liberal with it so it melts over the veg and down into the crevices between each bit. Place the ciabattas in the oven on the top shelf at Gas Mark 7/425 F for seven minutes. You may need to turn the pan to ensure even melting and browning of the cheese. If so then keep a close eye on things. Set a timer for three minutes--no longer--and then remove the pizzas from the oven. 
Mmmmm! Fresh baked Ciabatta Pizza direct from the oven, appearing in your kitchen. YUMMY!
There you go! A clean and tidy galley and dinner is ready to eat.
Pour some wine and Bon Appetit!

Les was busy sawing and chopping wood while I cooked. Warm food in our bellies and a warm boat with all this lovely wood!


Carol said...

Pizza look tasty Jaq, I’ll definitely try those but George says his will need a meat (pepperoni) topping too!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol, If we were allowed to eat meat, mine would be loaded with pepperoni! You can put anything you want on these pizzas. I thought these pizzas would be relish topped with rounds of mild goat cheese, and chorizo and prawns sauteed together, sprinkled with fresh parsley. Do let me know how yours turn out and if you liked them. Xx

Carolyn.Carapace said...

Hi Jaq. Ciabatta looks lush. But, I have to ask, WHAT is that cream thing on your side to the right of the picture????? Looks like it has a nozzle on it. Carolyn

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carolyn,
That is a Green Star juice extractor. It is required to make high quality live juice for cancer treatment.
Jaq xxx

Unknown said...

Mmm,agree nicer still with peperoni.
The most exciting part of today is the link you sent to your blog!

Greyman said...

Les and Jaq
Love the blog but lately I find your "go fund me " paster is blocking some of the text

Carolyn.Carapace said...

Thank you Jaq. Did wonder if you had resorted to making your own sausages as it reminded me of my dad's sausage machine!
Carolyn x x x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hello Greyman,
I've adjusted the widget so it should be out of the way of text now.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs