A day to myself

I’ve got two days off after a seven-day stretch, and the husband’s at work. What to do with myself? Make a list of all the plant and food projects I want to do this summer, of course!

I have this irrational need to make taffy during the summer, which is silly because it never works out (but it tastes so good). I think I’ll settle for making candied ginger today, and doing something with the chocolate I keep hoarding – chocolate-pretzel bites? Violet-infused chocolate truffles? Ooh, chocolate-dipped mint leaves!

The herb garden is going strong again, so I’ve got a bag of dried violets to find a use for and a much larger bag of dried marjorum that I need to process. Chive blossom vinegar is going strong, need to switch out the blossoms for some fresh ones. Think the basil needs a little TLC, and the rosemary bush is getting out of control.

Found soap bases at the craft store, maybe the violets can go into that – I know some of the old-fashioned roses growing in the yard are definitely going into a soap, they’re so incredibly fragrant! Soaps may be the Christmas gift of the year, this time around – fresh fruits and juices, dried herbs and flowers, tons of possibilities. Pretty sure I can make a chai tea based soap, which would be heaven.

Cooking stuff: sometime this summer, I’m hoping we’ll be able to do a big crab/crawdad boil here at the house, maybe get some of mine and the hubby’s friends over to supplement the family members we usually do these things with.

In June, I’m planning on ordering a pack or two of pickling cucumbers and getting the supplies together for a massive How To: Pickles and Preserves. Definitely want to do dill pickles (Small Family style, of course!), maybe daikon pickle and one other, then strawberry jam or jelly and maybe a fruit butter.

The father-in-law found a good source for bulk mustard seed online, so some experimenting in mustard-making will happen this summer, as well! I’ll be sure to track the results and send out samples for “taste-testing” once I’ve got it down.

I’m going to need a bigger kitchen.

~Mountain Girl



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Filed under Food and such, Virginia

New Everything

Last episode featured an explosion of all things life-related, mostly the devastating end to the Shipwreck Tavern.

Now, a year after that doomed plan was set in motion, life has (mostly) settled back to normal. I went back to work at WM in August, and survived yet another set of holidays living with my in-laws (I love ’em, but there’s only so much we can see of one another). Just before the New Year, the beverage head position opened up rather suddenly, and I found myself with a raise, a shopping cart full of paperwork, and a slew of new responsibilities. Yay?

Yes. It’s been hectic and crazy and the ordering program doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do, but we’re getting there. Paperwork’s been trimmed and organized, and almost everything has a home. So on that front, life is good.

The husband has himself a new and exciting job, as well! He’d gone through a couple of bars once we got back to Virginia, and picked up a Fri-Sat-Sun bartender gig last month that has damn near doubled our income (go team booze!) all on its own. As of this past Monday though, he’s also teaching occasional Scotch tasting and other alcohol-related classes in the DC metro area. It’s awesome, he’s getting paid to teach people how cool booze is, and he doesn’t have to put up with crazy customers! They are paying him (just a couple of classes right now, but the company’s repeat customer rate jumped at the end of his first class) to do what he loves to do already: talk about why the art of distilling is so incredible.

Who knows, we may even get him blogging about it on his own site!

I think the incredibly beautiful weather today has bolstered my mood. The creativity is flowing, and I feel like this spring is going to be fabulous (and yarn filled). So many projects!

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Filed under Barfly life, Virginia

Quick update

So, so much has changed, I owe a much longer entry, but for now, have the quick-and-dirty.
The bar’s closed. Individuals we thought we could trust took advantage of that trust and ruined any chance we had of keeping the bar going. We’re dissolving the company and have moved back out of Crisfield (Jersey Island, more commonly known as Hammock Pointe, is still awesome. The house, the view, the people, all cool. Crisfield itself is a different story.), and are working to get the last of our possessions out of the bar.
We learned a lot, and will definitely be trying this again someday – it won’t be in Maryland, though.


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Enter the Shipwreck.

Some days, heavy on the “wreck” part of that.

We’re open for business, although we’re just running the bar side right now. We’re out of paint brushes for the work on the banquet side, so a supply run this week is in the works. We’re also running without a kitchen right now, which has admittedly been sucking a lot of our business away – we’ve got a hot dog roller up in the bar, but folks just don’t seem to want them before 11:3o at night. Maho’s Kitchen, the restaurant that was operating in the downstairs kitchen when we moved in, changed locations at the beginning of June (thank goodness!), leaving the kitchen and restaurant a disaster. The landlord has been in there with his girlfriend and construction crew every day for at least 10 hours a day, the past two weeks, just cleaning up the mess that was left. A new pizza place is moving in as soon as they can, and they’ve got a gal working on a mural in the dining room right now. We’ll be the only place in town where you can get pizza and a beer, and watch sports while you’re there!

Evening in the bar

The rumor mill is going full speed, although the really malicious ones have been put to bed, so now they’re just working in our favor – people in this area love to gossip, so come into the bar to pass the newest rumor on, and see if it’s really true. While they’re up there, they buy a few bottles, or a something-and-coke (the mixer of choice in this area).

Our corporate bank account is finally straightened out (misspelled name caused delays in both checks and card getting to us), so I should be setting up phone and internet service this week, and hopefully will do the training for our credit card machine before the weekend. We’ve been operating as Cash Only since we opened in May, and while it hasn’t hurt us that much, it isn’t helping us with the boating/cruise stop crowds.

Wednesday we’ve got our first performer in the bar, acoustic guitar player Michael Bennet (http://www.reverbnation.com/michaelbennet) – this guy has talent! We’re also in contact with the producer of local movie “Hookman 2”, Maryland’s own little Scary Movie. Hookman 2 is in post-production, and hoping to release in early October. We’re hoping to host their premiere, so keep an eye out.

I obviously don’t update this as often as I should, but the Shipwreck’s Facebook page is fairly active, with regular updates about our specials and events. As things (paperwork) start to smooth out (no more surprise licenses!), I’ll hopefully remember to update here more!

Thanks for reading,


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I’ll go camera-happy on it later today hopefully, but for now, have an update.
We signed a rental agreement this weekend on the house Jared’s been staying at – bay views on one side, wildlife refuge marsh on the other, one neighbor who runs the ice cream shop, another with a charter fishing boat (and a potbelly pig named Willy), and a state-sized population of no-see-um’s, the only downside thus far.

The bar is looking fantastic, Jared’s done an incredible job getting it right – still have some trim work, and few more coats on the bar itself, but all in all, we’re done on that front. Now it’s just paperwork, paperwork, more paperwork, phone calls, paperwork, and money heading out of the coffers, hopefully to be followed by money rolling -in- to the coffers.

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Filed under Island Home, Maryland, Uncategorized

Bait and Switch

Since early November, I’ve been working at World Market, and Jared has been trying to find work. He’s gotten a few bartending or landscaping gigs, but nothing remotely stable. In the DC Metro area right now, if you don’t have 5-10 years experience, companies don’t even bother looking all the way through your resume, let alone call you back. So it’s been a tight couple of months.

Back in February, Jared’s parents had a ridiculously horrible dining and bar experience, and came away saying “Jared could do better than that while blindfolded.” They approached the two of us with a business proposal: Susan would give us a private loan in monthly installments, if we could find a bar/restaurant & bar location and plan that blew her away.

A couple of weeks ago, Jared and I drove up to Federalsburg, MD near the Eastern Shore to look at a potential bar. The place was such a dump that we said “No freaking way” without even getting out of the car, but talking with locals along the way, the town desperately needed another watering hole. We decided to focus our search on the Eastern Shore, finally convincing Susan that there was no way we were going to find a rentable location in the DC Metro area for what she could afford each month. Jared and his dad put together a Craigslist ad, and we started to get responses from all over the eastern shore of Maryland and Deleware (and one in Reno!).

Last Sunday, March 20, Ken got a response from a guy in Crisfield, MD – the southernmost Maryland city before you start ferrying to islands. He was looking for someone to either lease the top floor as a bar, or buy the whole building. We emailed back and forth with him on that Monday, and when he sent us photos of the space, we were blown away.

The whole top floor? That’s the bar. The right side of the upstairs is set up as a banquet room, and the windows continue all the way around – it’s almost 360 degrees of bay views.

We drove down to Crisfield the next day to take a look at the place and talk to some of the locals. This town is a watermen’s town, about 2600 people, and very few of the bars in the area stays open after September. Half of the restaurants are only open for half the week, once the tourists leave, and the bars all close at 9 p.m.

More later, but I’ve got to finish getting ready for work. I’m staying with World Market through the Easter season, if I can swing it.





Filed under Barfly life, Virginia

“Failed Fondue” Mac & Cheese: a Post-Wedding Meal!

When Jared and I got back from our honeymoon, we discovered that the house was still full of leftovers from the wedding! There were 15 open bottles of wine in the garage, about 15 different cheeses, and we’re still finding things!

So in an attempt to use up both the cheese and the wine, we tried our hand at fondue one night. “Tried” is the operative word, here. There were so many cheese varieties that went into it – Monterey Jack, cheddar, Brie, some random Greek cheese we had, plus another half dozen that we couldn’t identify – that we weren’t sure how it would actually turn out.

It was delicious. We ate as much as we could stand, dripping cheesy goodness off of sourdough bread cubes. But the texture was wrong, and there was way more of it than four people could inhale in one sitting. The fondue ended up very grainy, and I’m pretty sure it was one of the hard cheese we had in the mix. But it still tasted amazing, so we poured the leftovers into a container, and came up with a way to use it the next day.


“Failed Fondue” Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You’ll need:
Pasta, 2 cups – use whatever you’ve got. We used whole wheat penne. Enough to balance out the fondue you’ve got.
Leftover fondue, at least 3 cups (4 is better)
Milk or Half and Half
Breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup
Seasonings – Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, chili powder or smoked paprika, whatever you’re in the mood for (or have too much of)
Grated cheese

Grease a deep 1-1/2 quart baking dish (or whatever casserole dish you’ve got) and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Bring water to boil and cook pasta according to its directions. While it’s making its merry way toward done, heat up your leftover fondue.

Run a butter knife through it top-to-bottom then side-to-side in a grid, loosening the cheesy cubes as you go. If it’s in a microwavable container, nuke it on 70% power for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until the cheese is partially melted. Add in a tablespoon of butter (or more, whatever feels right) and a couple tablespoons of milk/half & half, stir into the cheese, and microwave again in 30 second bursts until everything is melted and more or less smooth. Add more milk as needed to get the right consistency. For the stovetop, melt the fondue in a saucepan over medium heat, adding the butter and milk when it’s mostly melted. Stir often, you don’t want it to scorch. You just want to make your fondue more saucy. Add a little flour to the mix if it seems too thin. Once it’s all incorporated, turn the heat off and add any seasonings you like.

When the pasta’s done to your liking, drain it and add it back to its pot, and stir the fondue-turned-cheese sauce into it. Pour half the pasta and sauce into the baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese, and top with the remaining pasta. Add more cheese, and sprinkle (be liberal) half a cup of breadcrumbs or so over the top.

Bake until the breadcrumbs are toasted, and the cheese is melted and just golden around the edges of the dish, about 30 minutes (NOTE: If you use a shallower, larger casserole dish, cut the time to 15-20 minutes). Let the whole thing stand for five minutes before dishing it up.

Serve with steaks and butternut squash slices hot off the grill. Don’t forget the vino.


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