Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More weekend cooking fun

In addition to the great Caprese salad I made, I also made a great main dish Monday night.

I really like tilapia. It is a nice mild fish that is easy and fast to cook.
Usually I save that for an after-work meal. But it sounded so good, I couldn't wait and went ahead and made it on my night off.

This has a lot of my favorite flavors: tarragon, lemon, shallots.

And it was easy.
And it would be easier if the chard (which is more labor intensive in the cleaning) was replaced with some of that pre-washed spinach in a bag.
Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes, right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tastes like summer

I am so lucky here in Southern California.
I have access to great, fresh produce pretty much all year long.
I have a Ralphs Fresh Fare, a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's all within easy reach.
I have local farmers markets not too far away on Saturdays and Sundays and Tuesdays.

Yes, I am lucky.

But even with this year-round abundance, some things just taste better at certain times of the year.

Like tomatoes in summer.

And all it took to inspire last night's appetizer salad was just to see a little basket of lovely tomatoes at Whole Foods.

I wasn't even planning an appetizer until I saw these babies.
Then all I could think about was making a Caprese salad.

So that is exactly what I did.

Monday, September 15, 2008

At least dinner got cooked

After diving yesterday I was planning to go home and do some housework.
That really didn't happen.

Mostly I squandered the rest of the day.
I did get the scuba gear rinsed and set out to dry.
After that, not much.

But I did manage to cook a decent dinner.

Chicken Marsala with some simple pasta and steamed baby green beans.

Today I really do need to get to some of these chores.

It has been a while since I slept in, not even setting an alarm. And since I didn't go to bed until well after midnight, I knew I would sleep well.

I did. I woke up at 7 a.m., which is just a little earlier than the normal alarm time. But I went back to sleep.

Until 10 a.m.
And now it is almost noon. So I need to get busy.

I have a floor to mop.

Calm day at Vet's Park

Me, with Redondo Beach Pier in the background.

Veteran's Park, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Sept. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 14
In with: 2600 psi
Out with: 500 psi
Max depth: 45 feet
Bottomtime: 40 minutes
Manfriend and I were determined to get in a real dive after last week's aborted mission.
We got a bit of a late start, but made it to Veteran's before 9 a.m.
A quick look at the water showed that it was about as flat as it could be.
We geared up easily and headed down the stairs to the sand.
I decided that I was going to try the ankle weights on my tank this time instead of on my ankles.
They get draggy as the dive progresses and the feeling of them on my ankles makes me think my fins are slipping off.
I still need the weight to sink, but I figured it would be fine on the tank.
There was no surf to speak of and we made it out easily with a short surface swim.
The water was pretty green, but we were there so we decided to go for it and dive.

Me again. It was a little sandy down there.

We submerged in about 15 feet of water and started west. Visibility was pretty bad, maybe about 5 feet. There was a bit of a current pushing us north, but we kept on our course.

Tiniest starfish I have ever seen. That is in the palm of my hand.
On the way toward the shelf, we saw the usual sand dollars and starfish and flounder.

I was having trouble with my buoyancy and with my feet. Darn things wanted to float up. It was making it really tough to stay balanced and I was struggling a bit.

As long as I was moving, it was not that bad. But as soon as I slowed down, floaty feet.

Which means my feet were heading for the surface, but my torso was still on the bottom. So there I was, head over feet in about 40 feet of water.

MF was kind enough to take the weights off my tank and put one on each ankle. OK. From now on, ankle weights. No matter how draggy they get.

The dive was much improved after this.

We went just along the edge of the shelf for a while. There were little bits of kelp that seemed to be more interesting today than normal.

On one piece there was a small nudibranch. As I was looking at that, a fish caught my eye in the kelp. MF later said it was a kelp fish. Go figure.

Kelp fish.


That black thing is my finger, just to show how small the nudibranch was.

And then, just as I was about to move on, something else caught my eye. I thought it was a piece of the stringy part of the kelp. But it was a very long, thin fish. Almost snake-like. A pipe fish.

You guessed it... Pipe fish.

MF got lucky here and managed to get the kelp fish,
nudibranch and pipe fish all in one shot.

Slimy snail thing in its shell.

We also saw a big, slimy looking sea cucumber, a snail of some sort hiding in it giant shell and a guitar fish, which is a type of ray according to what MF found online later.
MF tried to get a picture of the guitar fish, but it was too fast and swam away in a flash.
It was maybe 2-3 feet long.

That was in the sand as we were heading back in, maybe in about 15-20 feet of water.

In the same area we saw some other creature that we could not identify.

It camouflages itself with sand, but has these little antennae like things all over the surface.

The underside is purple and it looks almost like some sort of strange mushroom.

Very cool.

There also was this big clump of mussels.

With these strange finger-like things growing out of it.

Then it was time to go in. My air was getting low.

After quick surface peek to see where we were, we swam south and then west a bit and surfaced again in about 10 feet of water.

After a short swim to where we could stand, we stopped to remove our fins then walked out.

None of that sand-eating stuff this week.

There still were no waves at all. Perfect.

I was able to walk out easily.

Then a quick cleanup followed by a cheap pancake breakfast at a place not too far from the beach. We then went to the dive shop to refill the tanks for next time. I also bought a dive knife and a small light.

After that, home to clean all the gear and spend the rest of the day doing mostly nothing.