What do we do now - TheNavagePatch.com

What Do We Do Now?

First, Handan and I would like to congratulate Ms Dorothea Chaffin for winning our recent Cricut Joy giveaway! Dorothea hails from a small town in southern Missouri, and she was absolutely thrilled to discover she’d won. Dorothea told me that the last time she won anything was in 1979 when she won a turkey! Perhaps if you’re reading this, Dorothea, you could tell us the story of that turkey in the comments? How and where did you win it? How did you prepare it? Did it taste better because it was a prize turkey? I love the small details of life – they are the seeds of a thousand interesting stories. 🙂

What do we do now - TheNavagePatch.com

Okay, on to business. Well, not really business business. I swore off “business” when Wall Street and I parted ways in 2006 after an ill-conceived 10-year relationship. Yeesh, talk about a wrong career path…

Anyway…on to affairs of the blog. How’s that? Better, I think.

If there’s one certainty as a blogger (unless you’re a fitness or health-food blogger), it’s that January – March are the doldrums. After the holidays, blog traffic tanks, ad-spending plummets, interest wanes, and everyone generally freaks out for a few weeks, much the same way they do at the approach of the first winter storm of the season. If you’ve ever lived in a snowy climate, you know what I’m talking about. Even grizzled veterans who’ve ridden out several dozen winters act like Chicken Little when the first flakes fall.

It’s no different in blogland. Though they know their income is about to be (temporarily) chopped off at the knee, bloggers still whimper and fret and seek solace from their peers in blogger-only chat rooms and Facebook groups.

But it’s not all bad. It’s a bit like summer vacation for teachers.

…Except without the summer.

…And without the vacation.

…And without the relaxation.

Okay, fine, it’s nothing like summer vacation. But it is a good time for us to do a little housekeeping for our blogs and do some planning for the future.

Now, as for planning, Handan has me booked (last I checked in Google calendar) well into the 22nd century. You never know when they might invent a longevity pill, and my babes wants to make sure she has first dibs on my time in case I’m still chugging along in my triple digits.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little more planning along the way. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

What do we do now?

Oh, don’t worry, The Navage Patch isn’t going anywhere! And we’re not going to be changing our format from DIY to dollhouses or crafting to crab fishing.

One thing we have decided to do is teach you guys how to use Cricut with our Cricut Cribs.

As you know, Cricut sponsors us from time to time, and it seemed only fitting to teach the basics along with the projects. Our Cricut Cribs will be published every weekend, so they won’t ever take the place of our project posts. It’s a long-term thing, as we’re both busy with other aspects of the blog (plus Handan’s “real” job, which keeps her busy for well more than 40 hours per week). Once we finally finish the Cribs , we’ll probably bundle all the lessons together in a nice e-book format, but don’t worry, you’ll always be able to download the individual pages for free in The VIP Patch.

And we’re planning to get more into recipes – again, not at the expense of DIY and crafts. In fact, Handan and I just got back from an all-day antiquing adventure looking for props for food photography, because it’s the picture that sells the recipe!

What we’d like to know is what recipes are you most interested in? Please select all that apply.

What kinds of recipes would you like to see on The Navage Patch?
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Now here’s the thing about recipes…eventually, it might make sense for us to cleave off that portion of The Navage Patch and give it its own proper blog. To that end, I’ve already re-purchased the domain name I used to own when I moved to Qatar to first be with Handan.

Back then, I had this notion that I’d be a food blogger with the twist that I’d be making old favorites with local Middle Eastern ingredients. The blog was called Chef Out of Water, and it lasted for a few months before Handan and I left Qatar for Afghanistan. This was my logo at the time.

What do we do now - TheNavagePatch.com

I still have the photos and write-ups for those posts. The writing wasn’t bad. I had a much sharper edge back then. My writing style has softened considerably. But the photos were patently awful. I didn’t have the first clue what I was doing!

Exhibit A: Red Fish on a Red Plate Floating in Outer Space.

What do we do now - TheNavagePatch.com

Exhibit B: Arabian Fish Taco on Tilted Red Plate Floating in Outer Space.

What do we do now - TheNavagePatch.com

In truth, those Arabian fish tacos were the bomb! Almost as good as So-Cal fish tacos! Want the recipe? I’ve posted it below. I swear it tastes better than it looks!

Anyway, we’re thinking of bringing Chef Out of Water back and transferring all the recipe posts from TNP to COW. Don’t worry, it’ll have a new logo!

So what do you think of that idea? Would you be interested in reading another bunch of hooey from Yours Blabberingly? Understand that this would mean another dreaded email in your inbox, assuming you wanted it (I can hear you gasping, madam).

Would you read and follow a second blog dedicated to food?
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Lemme ask you something, and be honest. How many of you have ever considered blogging, however briefly or fancifully?

Have you ever considered starting a blog?
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Okay, those who have considered blogging are likely aware of the “Blogging Blogs” niche. These are the people whose business model revolves around teaching others to blog. Their main revenue generally comes from selling “blogging courses.” Handan and I have seen many of these courses and read many of these bloggers’ advice. So many of them preach the same thing. If you notice a lot of similarity between blogs out there, blogging blogs are to blame.

When my babes and I started The Navage Patch, we didn’t follow anyone’s rules or plan. We did it our way, just like Old Frank.

And we succeeded.

So we’ve been toying with the idea of sharing our knowledge with those interested in learning.

But we’re not going to sell a course.

And we’re not going to sell an e-book.

Instead, we’ll show you how to blog the only way that makes any sense…which is to say, your way. No tricks, no gimmicks and no bullshit.

There’s already far too much of that floating around the waters of blogland.

If Handan and I published a series of (free) posts teaching how to blog (at no cost to you, and it wouldn’t interfere with our “regular programming”), would you be interested in reading it?

If we launched a "How to Blog" series, would you read it?
649  · 649 

And one last question. Would you like to see a monthly post (Handan calls it a “Digs” post) about cool and interesting things we’ve encountered throughout the month and where you can find/buy them?

Would you like to read a monthly Digs post?
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We can’t wait to see everyone’s votes!

Now, about those fish tacos…

Here is the recipe from Chef Out of Water (v1.0), first published in March 2010 and saved all these years.

*****

If you live on the west coast of America, you’re familiar with fish tacos and most probably love them. If you’re from the east coast of America, you’ve probably never heard of a fish taco, and the idea probably sends bile creeping up your esophagus. If you live in any other country (besides the Latin American ones), well, who knows what you’ve heard of?

As an east coaster who moved to San Francisco, I was one who feared and loathed the fish taco. Seven years would pass before I mustered up the courage to try one, bought and consumed at a roadside ‘Indian’ fish taco stand outside of Gerlach, NV on my way home from Burning Man in 2006. What made it an Indian fish taco? Probably because it was made by Indians. Seriously. Not sure they duded it up in any special way, except maybe they hucked some corn in there for good measure. Anyway, if you’ve ever been to Burning Man, you know how you feel when you leave, and you know how good that first bite of non-playa food tastes. The fish taco I ate on that warm September night while still covered in dust and memories changed my life forever. It didn’t really, but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless. Like many great foods, the fish taco is simple yet infinitely tunable to one’s own taste. At its heart is fish, either deep fried or grilled, topped with some sort of vegetable or fruit salsa, something like cabbage or lettuce for crunch, maybe a sauce to add a little more flavor, then wrapped up in a corn or flour tortilla, which itself may be deep fried.

Now Handan loves fish, I mean really loves fish, so the fish taco is something I’ve wanted to make for her. The only problem in Doha is that a certain crucial ingredient, la tortilla, can only be found as made by a certain General Mills subsidiary, Old El Paso. I’d sooner wrap my fish taco in a burka than an Old El Paso tortilla. Adjustments were necessary.

Greg’s Arabian Fish Tacos

Ingredients

For the fish

  • ½ kg red snapper fillet (look for one with uniform height, width and depth), cut into 4 equal strips
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil

For the mango salsa

  • 1 medium mango, peeled and diced
  • ½ Persian cucumber, diced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Handful mint, chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Salt

For the labneh/yogurt sauce

  • ½ cup Arabian style labneh (labneh is strained yogurt – you can substitute 1/2 cup thick plain yogurt if you can’t find it)
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp black caraway seeds (these are NOT the same as caraway seeds, so please don’t substitute)

All the rest

  • Red and white cabbage, shredded
  • Pita bread, warmed (since we’re back in America, I highly recommend flour tortillas, as pita bread just doesn’t cut it for tacos)
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Heat enough vegetable oil in a deep frying pan to completely cover fish. If you don’t have one that deep, heat enough to cover half. You can flip the fillets halfway through.
  2. Mix together labneh, yogurt and black caraway seeds. Put aside.
  3. Mix together all the mango salsa ingredients and put aside.
  4. Mix flour, cumin, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Make sure fish is dry, then dredge through flour and shake off excess. Place the fillet strips in the oil and deep fry till golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Assemble the tacos by placing a strip of fish in the middle of a pita tortilla. Spoon mango salsa along one side and labneh sauce along the other. Top with shredded cabbage and a sprinkle of ground cumin.
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42 Comments

  1. I am so glad you are going to help us with our Cricket and Design Space. I’ve had my explore for three years and have only made two projects, one of which was the intro card! I’ve tried watching videos but they either assume you know the basics or they are so long and boring I find myself losing interest and looking for another video. Right now I have been trying to figure out how to write out a quote with my Cricut pens and a font that won’t just be an outline. The videos I have found are too old and Design Space doesn’t look the same so I can’t find the things they are talking about! It seemed like a simple project! Hopefully, you guys can do a lesson on this!

    1. I forgot to ask, what is labneh and where is it usually found in a grocery store? (Refrigerated, ethnic, etc?) Your recipe sounds delicious!

      1. Oooh, I’m sure Greg can answer this better than me, but it’s a very thick strained yogurt “cheese.” It’s creamy, and tastes a bit like cream cheese. We live in Saudi Arabia and buy the Turkish brands (and ate them for breakfast in Turkey.) If you get a chance to try it, you won’t regret it. I literally put it in everything: pasta sauce, mashed potatoes, dips, salad dressings, on bread, with chips or crackers. It goes on everything!

        1. Absolutely correct! Back when I used to make a lot of yogurt in my Instant Pot, I would often make labneh by straining it over the sink for 8-24 hours. The longer the strain, the thicker the labneh. Add a little salt, and it’s the perfect spread!

      2. That’s a good question, Giselle – I don’t think I’ve ever bought it back on this side of the world. Since it is perishable, I would guess it would be sold either with yogurt or with the cheeses.

    2. Hopefully our Cribs will hold your interest, Giselle. IF I understand you correctly, you’re wanting to have Cricut not only outline your font, but color it in, too. Do I have that right? If so, I’m not sure that’s possible (but I will check with the expert). As far as I understand (and I may be wrong), There are certain fonts that are “writing fonts,” and those are either outlined letters or single-line letters.

  2. Hm, I see this has Arabian labneh. I’m addicted to the Turkish kind. The other day, my husband bought Saudi labneh and I almost made him sleep on the couch! We only do Pinar labneh in this house!
    I’ll still try this recipe, though!

    1. LOL, either would be fine! We love Pinar here, too! It’s just too bad we’ve yet to find a dedicated Turkish grocery in our area of Georgia. There are plenty of Middle Eastern and Persian markets that have a small Turkish section, but we’d really love to find a couple of Turkish-only stores like we had back in CT.

  3. Hmm, I love me some fish tacos. I still have to try that Turkish cheese cake recipe. It looks so good and well, you had me at cheese and savory. Never thought about having my own blog because I write all day for my real job (copywriter), and not sure what I would blog about because my interests are so diverse. But I would love to read about the tips and tricks. Heck, I would read about any topic the Navage Patch puts outs. You two are so entertaining.

    1. That cheese cake is the best! Unfortunately, finding dill for that cake in Georgia is a bit of a process. It generally requires several 30-40 minute drives to some of the Indian stores, and even then, it’s hit or miss. American groceries? Forget it – I’ve never seen it. Weird.

      1. Really you can’t find dill? Granted I am in Southern CA and is in every grocery store year round. Not even Publix? That’s where I shop when in North Carolina. Also Ingles and Harris Teeter. It’s really easy to grow. Humidity in the south might make it a bit tricky, but it can be done. I grow from seed, plop it in the ground and forget about it. Drought tolerant and doesn’t require water or attention. It gets really hot here in summer so I harvest and dry often so the plant doesn’t bolt and go to seed. And if it does, that’s what I use the following year. One of my pre-covid campgrounds that we frequented, it grew wild. If I needed some, just took a pair of scissors and cut off what I needed. My heart is breaking for you.

        1. I swear it’s true, Naomi. Back in the summer I told Handan of my trouble, and she didn’t really believe me, so we spent almost an entire day driving from store to store (American, Indian, Korean), and the only dill we found were dinky packs of like 2 sprigs in the Korean store for $2. Our Indian neighbor told us that for sure Patel market carried massive bunches of dill for $1. Every time we went – no dill! He finally got us a bunch a few weeks after we started our search. So it’s hit or miss in the Indian groceries, and I’ve never seen it in Publix or Kroger. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen!

          1. Dill grows like a weed. You have great weather – do you have a flower bed that needs a little “something”? Toss those seeds in. You’ll have dill everywhere (says the voice of experience).

          2. I think that’s going to be our best option, Betty. We’re missing it in our salads, and it limits the Turkish dishes I can cook!

  4. I’m not so concerned about how to write blog posts but actually building the blog site is never a topic. I need step 1, 2, 3, etc. on building the blog. Just understanding frames would be nice. I am moderately IT savvy so why I can’t wrap my head around this I’m not sure.

  5. I’m looking forward to your Cricut cribs! We’ve had ours for over a year now and I have never used it. I have a terrible problem with procrastinating when I’m unsure of myself. Hopefully this will get me going. I really look forward to seeing where you head after tallying all the votes on everything else. I love learning so I’m up for it all.
    ps – I’m from Michigan and love a good fish taco!

  6. I’m not interested in the Cricut (I have a Cuttlebug and haven’t used it in years) but don’t forget about us traditional crafters! I love all the easy $ store ideas, etc., and I love all handwork (incl. knitting, crocheting and the like.) At age 80 I don’t want to buy more stuff (am trying to pass along some of my stuff to the kids and grandkids now!). I’d like to use up some of the stuff I already have!
    I love your website or blog or whatever you call it! LOL! Keep up the good work! You’re my favorite go-to crafting site!

    1. Don’t worry, Karen – all these new things (Cricut Cribs, recipes, etc) won’t take away from our “regularly-scheduled programming!” 🙂

  7. Excited to read and try almost anything you guys blog about! Greg, did you attend Burning Man before or after you left Wall Street? After reading about what Burning Man is and the theme of 2006 being Hope and Fear, I thought that could have been either fate or coincidence? Just wondering.?

  8. Hi there,

    I got a Cricut Explore Air 2 for Christmas and am excited for your Cribs posts. I’ve only made one thing so far…I’m a little bit afraid of the thing, lol. I’m older, so I’m not terribly computer literate, which is part of the problem.

    I’m also interested in possibly starting a blog but have no idea where to start or how to even get a name for one. Your challenge, should you accept, is to teach me, a fish out of water in this modern tech world, how to do it, lol.

    I really enjoy your site and your style of writing. Reading about you and Handan and your adventures together, is absolutely delightful! Thanks for everything you do!

    1. Well it sounds like you’re our target audience! Hopefully we’ll have you up and running on your Explore before too long, and just maybe you’ll have a crack at that blog, too!

  9. I would love to see your Cricut tutorials with explanations that would carry over to another brand.
    Please tell us what we are looking for, and what effect we want to make. For instance don’t just say ‘hit the purple button’, or ‘look in this drop menu for that and set the number to 234’..
    I have a Silhouette, and the JPG flies work on the designer upgrade. I may be able to find what your are describing with a different name.

    About Handan’s Digs posts, it is not that I would not shop with you, but I am in a different country, so you would just be making me jealous.

    I always look forward to your posts, So more would be great

    1. Hi Joanne, I understand what you’re saying. We’ll try to give explanations whenever possible and where space permits. Thank you for the suggestion!

  10. Greg, I have had my Cricut for years and without a lie, I have never even opened the box. It is so intimidating so I am thrilled that you will be giving a few lessons.
    Best wishes, Suzanne (Australia)

  11. Oh so glad for the Cricut instruction! Have had mine since your first Cricut blog and haven’t even plugged it in yet. Read instructions which was a lot of Greek to me an proceeded no further!

  12. I have a blog, I suck at blogging mainly how often. Thanks for everything! And please teach us your ways!!! With the Cricut, blogging, and cooking!

  13. Well, NO WONDER I enjoy reading our blog – you’re a fellow burner!! Keep doing it your way. I love seeing the Turkish recipes, and especially appreciate the easier to find substitutions. I live in the middle of BFE Idaho, and there’s just not much call for Middle Eastern cuisine here (sad face).

  14. Let me first say congratulations to Dorothea, for winning the circuit prize. I’m sure she will enjoy it!
    I love fish taco, but I’ve never tempted to make any. However, after seeing your recipe, I think I will be giving it a try now. your fish taco looks amazing!!! Can’t wait to try making some, using your recipe. Thanks for sharing

  15. Hi Greg, I have made a few of your recipes we really enjoyed them. I am a home chef in the making. I do believe I am getting better each day. These fish tacos sound great but I do have a few questions. Is a persian cucumber close to a english seedless cuke? As far as the labneh I know we wont find it around here so is the plain yogurt just plain yogurt or the greek variety? I also read above that it is simillar to a cream cheese so I am a little confused (not unusual for me). Last Question, on the first red plate it looks like you used a whole fish. Did you cut it up to make the strips? Ok Im done. thanks

    1. Hi Kim, yes, you could substitute English cukes for Persian – just as long as they’re not the fat, seed-filled American variety. As a substitute for labneh, you could mix some thick, plain yogurt with sour cream, or even heavy cream and add a little salt, and you’ll have something close to labneh. And yes, the Turkish variety is pretty close to cream cheese, so you could even mix some of that with yogurt. For the fish strips, I didn’t cut a whole fish, I found beautiful filets in the supermarket, so I just had to cut those. Enjoy!
      🙂

  16. Yes to cricut tutorials, yes to blogging info! I’ve toyed with the idea for YEARS! And I’m always looking for new, different recipes (and ditto on the idea of planting dill – it really does grow like a weed here in the south. I’m in Tennessee, btw.)