Sunday, October 21, 2007

October 21, 2007 - Anchorage #7

The main cruising guide for this area is published by the The Moorings charter boat company. The anchorages are all numbered. Over the radio, you hear people saying things like "'ello, Mate. We are leaving Anchorage 8 and moving to 31 this morning. Where are you?" "Good on 'ya. We are staying in town for another day or two then heading over to 11 for the feast." It takes some getting used to, but is much easier than struggling over the Tongan names for different beaches and bays.

Storm Along, Muline, and a few other friends had made plans to go to the Saturday night Tongan feast at Anchorage 7. It sounded like good fun, so we decided to join them. The reservation agent in town hadn't been able to reach the host of the BBQ to tell him that she had reservations for 17 people. After we anchored in #7, we dinked around the corner to pass along the message to the host. He had not been planning to have a BBQ that night, because he didn't know that anyone was planning to come. Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for him to go into town to get the supplies he needed. The cruising season is winding down here, and you could see how dismayed he was at the loss of income this late in the season.

I had been planning to invite everyone in the anchorage over to celebrate Sten's birthday on Sunday. Since we all suddenly found ourselves without plans for Saturday night, I decided to move up the festivities. After a quick trip around the anchorage to spread the word about the canceled BBQ, and issue some last minute dinner invitations, Sten went off to try to spear some fish for dinner while I started to bake a cake. 4 hours of intense activity later, including a quick call to Suzy to confirm that dried buttermilk was indeed supposed to be yellow, the dipping sauce, peanut sauce and beef penang curry were bubbling away on the stove, the chicken and beef satays were marinating, the spring roll ingredients were prepped, the boat was tidied, and we were both showered and ready for company.

20 people joined us. Everyone contributed something to the festivities. Nell and Brian from Storm Along brought two massive pots of rice, some wine and and loads of dishes and utensils. Betsy, Josh, Michael, and Hillary on Bahati contributed skewered chicken breast for the satays, several fish, birthday candles and more plates and utensils. Martin and Dirma from Dingo brought over some pineapples and festive balloons. Their toddler Boaz drew Sten a birthday card. Dory and Hans from Happy Monster ( gave Sten a Happy Monster t-shirt, which was attached to a bunch of Happy Monster balloons. Bert from Sea Beryl ( and Peter and Sandy, an Australian couple chartering a Moorings boat for the week, each brought a bottle of wine and Seth and Liz from Heretic and their guests contributed some beer to the bar. I had found mint at the market that morning, and made mohitos until the ice ran out.

Once everyone had a drink in hand, I demonstrated how to rehydrate the rice paper and assemble a spring roll, then everyone sitting around the cockpit table pitched in and rolled spring rolls for the crowd on the back deck. With much laughter we learned that rice paper wrappers and paper plates were never meant to meet - the attraction is instant, and fatal. Meanwhile, Sten was grilling the satays, which were passed around next. Nobody seemed to mind that the peanut sauce was made with extra chunky peanut butter. Then out came Nell's giant vats of rice and the curry. Lastly, the grilled fish were passed around. After the plates were cleared, and the coffee poured, I brought up the cake. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to Sten. He blew out the candles on the first try. Then the Dutch boats (Dingo, Sea Beryl, and Happy Monster) sang a Dutch birthday song, wishing him a long life. Michael from Bahati and Seth from Heretic became my personal heroes when they when they volunteered to do all the dishes (Thank you guys!).

It was a spectacular night. We had such a good time. After everyone headed back to their boats, Sten and I relaxed in the cockpit, finishing off a bottle of red wine while the sound of someone playing the mouth harp floated across the anchorage.

There were many requests for the cake recipe, so here it is.

Scottish Chocolate Cake from Bev Murphy (with my modifications in parenthesis)

Preheat oven to 350F.

#1: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda. Mix.

#2: 8 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons margarine (I used 8T salted butter and 8T unsalted butter instead), 4 tablespoons baking cocoa (Valrhona 100% cocoa powder), 1 cup water. Bring to a rolling boil (while stirring).

#3: 1/2 cup buttermilk powder, 1/2 cup water, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I tossed in 1 teaspoon of almond extract too). Mix.

Pour boiling #2 over #1. Add #3 and mix well with an electric mixer. Pour into an 11 x 13 inch greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 F for 40-45 minutes.

Icing: 8 tablespoons (salted) butter, 4 tablespoons baking cocoa, 6 tablespoons milk. Bring to a boil (while stirring). Add one box confectioner's sugar (I used approximately 250 grams). Add 1 cup chopped walnuts.

When the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan (so that the icing can coat the sides of the cake), then pour the icing over the top of the hot cake.

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