I haven’t been here much recently. By here I mean both on the blog and in the galley.
My enthusiasm for the blog ebbs and flows like the tide. Ironically, when we finally have half decent internet access and I get a chance to ‘catch up’ with the world is when I experience the most resistance to blogging. I start comparing our adventures to the thousands of other sailing and travel blogs. I spend too much of my time online and I find myself thinking things like “Oh, this would make a good blog post”, and “Gotta make sure I get a good photo to post online.”
Thinking of our lives as fodder for the blog, as not much more than material for a story, means that I am not being present in my experiences but rather just recording them. Living your life for someone else, an unknown, online audience, is exhausting. So, I chose to put down the camera, forget about the blog and just enjoy my time exploring the world with Steve. Only when I fill myself with enough real-world experience do I feel able to come back to this virtual world.
My time in the galley has also been brief as of late. This is partially because we’ve been trying to cover a lot of miles in the Philippines, without the help of much wind. This has meant early departures, lunches underway and two tired crew that can’t be bothered to stand over the stove after they’ve just thrown the anchor. There has been a lot of rice and fill-in-the-blank meals; spicy beans, shredded chicken with a splash of salsa, veggies and a fried egg. There’s also been lots of quick bowl dinners; pho, whatever’s in the fridge salads, pasta served with a hasty pan sauce. There’s been lots of leftovers. It’s food that fills the belly but doesn’t really inspire the soul.
It is also because ready-made food in the Philippines is practically on every street corner, and we’ve been taking full advantage.
Almost everyone will tell you that a pressure cooker is a ‘must have’ in your galley, but is it really? Sure they are economical, a great way to save time and very trendy right now but like any cooking technique pressure cooking does have it’s limitations.
This month in my Blue Water Sailing column I explore pressure cookers; how they work, what they cook and do you really need one. Plus there is a scrumptious recipe for my Curry Chicken Cassoulet! If you missed the May issue on news stands you can find the article HERE.
We are preparing for our next passage to the Philippines, which means we’ve been doing lots of schlepping of provisions. It’s not that I am worried about finding good provisions in PI, it’s just that I know there are somethings I may not be able to find. For me part of the excitement of sailing to somewhere new is the prospect of all the exciting flavours we get to explore, but there are still a few items that we would rather not live without; good tea, pasta without weevils, and, of course, all natural, no added sugar peanut butter.
I am a bit of a PB addict – in fact in certain circles I am known as the Peanut Butter Princess. Everywhere we sail I search for good PB but rarely find it, which is why when I do find it I stock up – as seen above!
On Kate PB isn’t just for breakfast and it isn’t just a sweet. Featured in the March issue of Cruising World magazine was my recipe for Beef Satay, a savory, spicy peanut sauce made from peanut butter. If you missed the issue here’s the story behind the moniker and the Beef Satay recipe.
We don’t eat out at restaurants very often, but we do love eating ashore.
We’ve cooked breakfast in a volcanic steam vent, found secret grottos for picnic lunches and dragged our BBQ up a river to cook sausages beside a fresh water swimming hole. If there is a beach around we’re planning dinner over an open fire or cooking bread on hot coals. We’ve even popped popcorn over a bonfire just so we had snacks to enjoy with our sunset drinks.
Boiling eggs in a volcanic vent in Tanna, Vanuatu
Dinner on the Beach
River lunch in New Caledonia
Palau is short on beaches due to the typography; steep limestone islands. The few that are around are in National Park areas so open fires are not permitted. This, of course, put a serious cramp in our beach bbq plans. Which was rather disappointing because it had been a really long time since we’d felt comfortable cooking ashore. Continue reading →
I have been kind of obsessed with Pinto Bean Brownies for the last month or so and no doubt if you try them you will be too.
It all started while researching an article about pressure cooking. Like most yachties I own a PC, they are very handy pots, especially while on passage. Just the design of a pressure cooker, with its positive locking lid, makes it a whole lot safer to cook with while the boat is bouncing around in a seaway. That cooking times are reduced up to 70% is an added bonus as it means a whole lot less time standing in front of that much safer but still heaving pot. But, I had to admit while preparing to write the article that I really hadn’t explored pressure cooking much beyond the standards; beans, stews, soups, grains, one-pot meals. I figured if I was going to put 2000 words on paper I should try a few new recipes and see how versatile my PC could be.
This month in my Blue Water Sailing Column, Heather Francis Onboard, talk to several sailing families about how they celebrate holidays onboard. Check out the December Issue on news stands or zinio.com today! Celebrate the holidays this year with subscription for hour favourite sailor and never miss a story!
I always like to have some ready-meals in the fridge when we are on passage. If we are planning only a night or two at sea that usually means making a double-batch dinner a day or two before we depart and stashing the leftovers in the fridge for a quick re-heat meal underway. Everyone gets a nutritious, hot meal and no one loses any sleep- either by being the one to get up and cook or the one to get up and sit watch. Sleep on a short passage is a precious commodity as neither of us adjusts to our 24 hour watch schedule – 4 hours on, 4 hours off – for a couple of days. Knowing that neither of us will be particularly rested I think it is important that at least we be well fed and it doesn’t take much extra time to cook a meal for 4 instead of 2.
Prepping for longer passages like our upcoming voyage from Papua New Guinea across the equator to Palau, some 1100 nautical miles straight line, requires a little more planning and time in the galley but is definitely worth the effort.
For long passages I cook enough main meals for at least 50% of our projected days at sea. I usually take a day or two to adjust to being underway, especially if we haven’t been sailing in a while or are expecting uncomfortable conditions. Having dinner prep taken care of for those first couple of nights means that I don’t have to stand over a hot stove in a heaving galley, an activity that will turn almost anyone’s stomach even if they are not already feeling a little green. There is nothing worse than putting in the galley time underway and not be able to eat the food you prepared, or worse watch it come back up 5 minutes after you managed to choke it down.
One of the foodstuffs that I always try and source locally is honey. Usually it is a side of the road or local market purchase from a small producer, sold in reused and mismatched bottles with hand written labels. Like wine honey has terroir. The relationship between the land the bees live on and the final product is obvious with the first taste. Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to find Mango Honey, Palm Flower Honey, Sugar Cane Honey, Bitter Orange Honey and Tropical Wildflower Honey. Each as unique as the countries we bought them in.
This season in the Solomon Islands I found honey on the island of Rendova. A local man had a couple of hives in his backyard that over looked the anchorage. His property was more or less just a well maintained garden brimming with budding trees, pineapple plants and tropical flowers nestled into rolling hillside covered in wild forest. His English wasn’t great but I gathered that his two hives yielded about 5 gallons of honey when he harvested every 3- 4 months. Continue reading →
Want fresh baked bread onboad but don’t have an oven? Or maybe you’re just looking for a way to cut down on fuel used and heat in the galley. Learn all my tricks for successful STOVE TOP baking in the August issue of Blue Water Sailing. Available on news stands now!
A couple months ago I taught a bread making workshop to a group of ladies on the island of Rendova. It was the same village that we found Erol to do the inlay work, which is how it all came about. We had spent over a week anchored in the quiet bay and gotten to know some of the people who lived there. One of the village elders regularly paddled out in his canoe around dusk. The Old Man came for “story”, which sometimes meant to chat and most other times to check up on what’d we done during the day as we had become grist for daily village gossip mill. The day before we left the topic of making bread came up and by the end of the conversation it was organized that I would lead a workshop when we returned.
We sailed away and explored the Marovo Lagoon for more than a month. We planned on stopping back at Rendova for only two days, so I intended on bringing with me the flour and yeast required for the bread making workshop, as the small local store didn’t stock them. I went to three stores in the pouring rain to find the 10kg bag of flour but thanks to our giant waterproof bag I got it back to the boat dry. (Not only was the ship late that week but flour is most often sold repackaged into 1 or 2kg plastic bags, and full of bugs.)
We pulled into the little harbour on Rendova late one Saturday afternoon and the Old Man paddled out shortly after we arrived to remind me about the workshop that had been arranged. I assured him I had not forgotten; in fact I had come prepared. I asked him to rally the ladies for 0800 on Monday morning. Continue reading →