The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make his face to shine upon you

and be gracious to you

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you

and give you peace…Numbers 6:24

Monday, May 14, 2012

U.S. News Top 10 Beaches in the USA part 2

  Second on the list of Top 10 Best Beaches in the US  is the US Virgin Islands. I was very fortunate to have visited all three US Islands: St. John, 
St. Thomas and St. Croix.
    Our travels to the USVI were for a mission trip. As soon a we arrived, we were greeted the wonderful hospitality of the Islanders. Our host was a native of St. Croix and showed us all the best restaurants and activities.  I'll never forget trying Conch soup or freshly made peanut butter ice cream for the first time. You will have to leave the fast city pace behind, because as our hosts told us- you are on island time now! 
     We went snorkeling at St. Thomas' underwater State Park. It was beautifully laid out with a series of underwater plaques explaining the vegetation and fish, landmarks and history. We had the opportunity to go on several diving expeditions. I was a newbie at diving. I loved every moment of our underwater journey. I was only terrified the first 10 minutes! After I got my bearings, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the Caribbean ocean. I was also comforted by our guide who was a former US Naval Seabee! I would highly recommend a vacation to the islands.

Frederiksted pier is teaming with vibrant coral and colorful sea life. The pier is a great place for both diving and snorkeling.

Magens Bay in northern St. Thomas is one of the most popular beaches in the Caribbean.

Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas

 A coastal view of the Buck Island National Monument, St. Croix.

Taste of the Caribbean: The Incredible Island Conch & Dumpling Soup at Nisbet Plantation 

recipe from Steve Bennett's Blog Uncommon Caribbean

First, prepare the conch. 
        You want to dice the meat to 1/3” size,  then soften it in a pressure cooker. Definitely be sure the conch meat is soft before proceeding.
           Next, fill a large pot with the 1/2-gallon of water. Transfer the softened conch along with the diced carrots, red and green peppers, celery, tomatoes, breadfruit (or substitutes as noted) and bay leaves into the pot. 
Bring to a boil and simmer for one-to-two hours.
In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the dumplings.
Roll into small balls 
and add ‘em to the pot.
              Next, sauté garlic and onion in the olive oil until translucent. Then add to the pot. Now it’s time to add the hot pepper flakes, lemon juice, thyme, and chicken bouillon. 
         Continue to boil and add salt and pepper to taste. To thicken the soup dissolve a little cornstarch in water and add to the pot.
                             Finally, place the soup in a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro and scallions, and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

from Diannes Dishes Blog

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Ice Cream:
1 - 18 ounce jar of peanut butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint half and half
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla

In a large stock pot add all ingredients and cook until sugar and peanut butter are melted.  Remove from heat and let sit until the mixture cools to room temperature.  (Note: As the mixture cools the peanut butter may separate from the milk a bit, but you can easily stir it back into the mixture.  I stirred it several times as it was cooling and once before putting it in the ice cream maker.  Once in the ice cream maker the machine does the stirring for you!)  Once the mixture is cooled add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to your models operating instructions.  When it is finished you will have your basic soft serve ice cream and can serve it immediately.  Place the mixture into the freezer in a covered container to let harden fully if you prefer a more firm ice cream.  Thaw for a few minutes before serving. 

Notes: if you wanted to lighten it up a bit you could use light cream, fat-free half and half and light peanut butter and it should all work fine, though it might freeze harder once you put it in the deep freeze.  

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