Friday, January 22, 2016

Crescent Dragonwagon????

Twelve years ago or thereabouts, while browsing the aisles of the Castle Rock, Colorado library, I came upon a cookbook that I have been enamored with ever since - Passionate Vegetarian, by Crescent Dragonwagon.

 Her name alone was enough to make me pick it up and take it home. And, being the curious person I am, I did a bit of research online and discovered that when she was sixteen she and her then husband decided to come up with new names, and that was what she ended up with. If you're as curious as I am, you can read all about it on her website,

 I have tried numerous recipes from that cookbook over the years, but my all-time favorite is Mushroom - Miso gravy. I usually serve it on mashed potatoes... mmmmm.... but Larry suggested trying it on fried potatoes, so that is what we're doing tonight. This is a typical Friday night for the two of us -  not too exciting for some, but we love to try new recipes, and now and then revisit an old favorite.

Here's the recipe...

Yield: Makes about 4 cups


    • 1 teaspoon of butter or Better (see tips, below)
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • Cooking spray
    • 1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cups sliced mushroom caps (about 1/3 pound)
    • 3 1/4 cups vegetable stock (see tips, below)
    • 3/4 cup dry white wine
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
    • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon golden miso (sweet white miso)
    • 1 tablespoon dark miso (traditional red miso)
    • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see tips, below)
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


    1. 1. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large skillet, well sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Raise the heat slightly and add the mushroom caps. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes more.
    2. 2. Pour the vegetable stock into a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, preferably nonstick, and warm over medium-low heat.
    3. 3. Pour the wine into a food processor and add the garlic, flour, golden miso, dark miso, nutritional yeast, and mustard. Buzz together to form a paste.
    4. 4. Whisk the paste into the warmed, but not hot, vegetable stock. Gently bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Take a ladleful of this liquid and swirl it into the sautéed mushroom mixture, stirring well to scrape up any little flavorful bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the mushrooms, onions, and liquid to the pot with the stock, scraping the sauté pan clean.
    5. 5. Reduce the heat to very low and let the sauce simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Correct the seasonings with salt (you'll need little, if any, since miso is salty) and a lot of pepper. Serve hot, ladled over whatever good thing you are serving. 

Cooking in a motorhome is a bit of a challenge - everything has to be planned out step-by-step, and it is crucial to CLEAN AS YOU GO!!! It's such a challenge that more times than not I opt for a baked potato with Green Giant frozen broccoli with cheese sauce (I do love that stuff!) or a quick stir-fry using packaged chopped salad. But since  I really do love to cook,  every now and then we make some real food. 
 I love using the electric skillet whenever possible rather than the propane range, but since the skillet will have to be used for the fried potatoes, I'll cook my gravy on the stove top.
 So, first I chopped some nice red onion that I had hanging out in the refrigerator.  

And then sliced up the star of the show -the mushrooms...

I sauteed the onions and added the mushrooms in olive oil and a lot of butter...
 Woops! I forgot to take a picture of the wine, flour, garlic, miso, and Dijon mustard pulsing in the Magic Bullet, but here is the paste making its way into the mushroom broth...

 Now it just needs to simmer until it's thickened to a nicely smooth consistency.

Meanwhile, Larry's making the fried potatoes, which he had cubed hours ago....

He then fried up some onion and sprinkled it with salt and pepper...

added the potatoes, and let them do their thing until nice and crispy!

 Larry and I had agreed to cut back on our wine and beer consumption to save money, but this recipe just wouldn't be right without some white wine, so had to have it. I only used a half cup in the gravy, and couldn't let the rest go to waste!

The potatoes were ready for a final stirring,

 Larry broke two eggs into the pan.

Time to dish it up and pour on that delicious mushroom gravy!

The fried egg goes on top - Let's dig in! Mmmmmm....

And there are leftovers for tomorrow night!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Little Bit of Magic...

Larry and I had been hoping to stay in the Sweet Spot Yurt ever since we first visited Doe Bay and were thrilled to be able to book it for our trip. Unfortunately, it had experienced some damage from the weather and we were put in the Yang Yurt instead. We were disappointed, since it didn't have the lovely view of the bay, but we decided to go with it nonetheless.

We arrived in Anacortes in plenty of time and took Duchess for a walk while waiting for the ferry.

We got back in the car and  I worked on my cross stitch Navajo dollhouse rug while we waited.

I may even finish it one of these days!

All aboard!!! The Pelagic Cormorants were in place to see us off.

It was a pleasant ride, although a little chilly in the breeze.

The view from the ferry's Sundeck...

More Pelagic Cormorants to greet us on Orcas Island.

We had lots of time to kill before we could check in at Doe Bay Resort, so stopped in Eastsound to walk around a bit.

Indian Island

Such a lovely old church... I'd like to go inside sometime.

The labyrinth 

Time to check in! 

The trail up the hill to the yurt looked a little steep for my arthritic knees, but Larry went up first to check it out, and we determined that it would be fine - and it was!

It was pretty cozy inside...

The bed was quite comfy...

Duchess approves!

I loved the moss and ferns.

Duchess had a blanket from home and made herself a little nest.

Back down the hill for more stuff...

Then it was time for Duchess and me to relax while Larry went down to the soaking tubs.

It's a bit difficult for me to maneuver myself down into the pools, so I stayed behind with my coloring book for adults! I had stocked up on even more colored pencils before the trip, so I was fine!

The view from the pools is pretty amazing. Larry never did obey the rules, though...

We had planned on having a salad for supper that night, but when Larry got back from soaking, we realized that we were both too tired to put it together, so we had olives, boiled eggs, cheese, and crackers. The salad would be perfect for lunch the next day.

 We slept like babies, were up early, had some coffee, and took our yogurt down to the water.

 I could have sat there for hours, but we had things planned for the day. Larry got in some more soaking while I drove up to the bath house and took a nice long, HOT shower! It felt fantastic. We have a perfectly fine shower in Jumbo, but long and hot doesn't describe our RV shower experience. Quick and lukewarm is more like it! Then I drove back to the yurt, made our salads, and when Larry returned we drove to Rosario Resort to check out the Moran Museum.

Built between 1906-1909 by Seattle Shipbuilder and Mayor Robert Moran, the mansion features original photographs from the late 1800's and early 1900's, original furnishings and fixtures, and a display of the ships built by the Moran Brothers Company in Seattle.

Robert Moran arrived in Seattle in 1875 at age 18, alone, with just pennies in his pocket. By 1900, he was one of the city's wealthiest and most-respected businessmen, head of a major shipbuilding company, twice elected mayor, credited with helping Seattle rebuild and modernize after a devastating fire in 1889.

 The apex of his career came in 1904 when his shipyard launched the battleship Nebraska. At that point he was also a self-described "nervous wreck," exhausted by overwork. He sold the company and retired to Orcas Island, where he bought more than 5,000 acres and began developing an elaborate estate he named Rosario. The centerpiece was a 54-room mansion that he designed himself. He later donated most of his land to the state for what became Moran State Park.

Robert Moran designed the rambling 54-room, five-level home and then employed the finest craftsmen he could assemble to do the work.

Rooms are paneled in East Indian teak and Honduran mahogany brought by boat and then seasoned. Even the hinges, door fasteners and hardware, designed by Moran, were cast in bronze at a machine shop on the property. Far ahead of his time, Moran also built his own hydroelectric power system, which supplied electricity and heating for the home. Rosario became one of the earliest homes anywhere to be electrically heated. Besides the 18 bedrooms, dining rooms, grand living room and dens, Rosario also featured a heated swimming pool in the basement, bowling alley, billiard room and an attic that could accommodate 50 guests on cots.

The "porch" back in the day...

And as it looks today...

and from the side...

A model of one of Robert Moran's ships, on display in what must have been a bathroom at one time...

View of the front lawn -  Anchor chain from the "Nebraska" is strung between repurposed Seattle street lamps along the carriage circle.

The design of the Moran Mansion was inspired not only by Moran's nautical background but also by the popular Arts and Crafts movement of the time.  Moran's dedication to the Arts and Crafts ideals is evident throughout the mansion with its rich mahogany paneling, earthen tone tiles, stain glass lighting, and unique fireplace hearths.

The bathrooms looked exactly as they must have when the Moran's lived there.

  Some details of the plumbing.

Here I am in one of the dressing rooms. As I wandered through the rooms, I wondered what it must have been like for the family to have lived in such an amazing place.

And look, Robert had a Boston Terrier!

 Bedroom containing a teak bureau featuring swinging mirrors designed by Robert Moran.

Moran's oldest son, John, served as construction foreman, but Moran oversaw every detail, down to the door hinges. Several hundred mahogany doors were installed in the mansion, each one so solid and heavy that they needed special hinges to open and close smoothly. Moran designed bronze "butterfly" hinges with pins of self-lubricating lignum vitae, a hardwood often used by shipbuilders.

Moran's special pride was the handsome, soaring music room at Rosario, which contains, among other items, a 26-rank Aeolian pipe organ made in Germany with 1,972 pipes. It is here that Moran would often wake up his guests sharply at 7 a.m. daily with a resounding rendition of ``Work for the Night is Coming.'' A balcony above the music room contained the keyboard for the organ and Moran's private library, which held volumes on both engineering and medicine (he decided to learn everything he could about medicine after being told he had only six months to live). The music room also contains a 1900 Steinway grand piano, a Belgian stain-glass window picturing the harbor at Antwerp, and two mezzanine libraries overlooking a Tiffany chandelier, which depicts various performing arts.
Rosario Museum Tiffany
As it was...


Imagine waking up to this view every morning!

The closets were full on fascinating drawers of various sizes. 

Yet another bathroom, with an interesting shower head...

Time to leave. What an amazing place! 

We drove down by the machine shop, but  couldn't find a picnic table anywhere at Rosario, so went back to the lake in Moran Park to eat our lunch. We tried to drive up to Mount Constitution, but didn't notice the sign that said the road was closed at Little Summit. Oh well, the view that we saw from the side of the road was amazing, anyway. 

 We went back into Eastsound to the grocery store for a few things, then back to Doe Bay. We sat by the water until it was time for Larry to get in a little more soaking time.

 Soon it was time to make supper in the Community Kitchen. It was so much fun!  I chopped some garlic and ginger...

Sauteed it up...

I had come down earlier and cut up the sweet potatoes and green onions.

Time to add the tomato paste and chili paste...

Some tomatoes went in and we let it simmer for a bit...

While the flavors melded, we moved outside to one of the tables and enjoyed a glass of wine!

The veggies were added and we just hung out until they were tender, heated the rice up in the microwave, and sat down to eat.


We went to bed and nearly froze! Larry went down to the car around 3 a.m. for another propane can for the Little Buddy, and by the time we got up it had warmed up some. He went down for a little more soaking, we packed up, and said good-bye to the Yang Yurt...

 until next time, when we will definitely be in the Sweet Spot!