Our meals for the past few months have been pretty simple; rice, a salad or a few veggies sautéed quickly with some garlic and ginger, a bit of roast chicken, maybe an egg that I boiled in it’s shell along with the rice, or a few slices of tofu fried until golden. A splash of soya sauce, a drizzle of spiced cane vinegar, a smattering of fresh chilies and a squeeze of calamansi.
There might be a few nights where I cook noodles in lieu of rice or I fry the leftover rice from the night before with whatever veggies are left in the fridge. I’ve made spaghetti twice this year, once using a store-bought sauce, we’ve eaten maybe 6 potatoes between us. Meals have been about hunger, not so much about enjoyment. After a long, hot, frustrating day that’s all I can muster, and quite frankly all I want.
That is until this past week or so.
I haven’t wanted to cook, so much as bake, something I haven’t done since I was back in Canada. I want to make cookies and cakes and elaborate desserts. And I could care less about eating them, I could easily give all my hard work away. (OK maybe a bite of cake, or a couple slices of fresh bread…just for quality control purposes, of course.)
I use several techiniques to make our provisions last, with limited cold storage space I have to. Years I ago I discovered that you can preserve ginger, and other rhizomes like turmeric, simply by submersing it in alcohol. The method that has a two-fold result; fresh ginger/turmeric that is ready to add to any dish, and some delightfully flavoured alcohol ready to add to your sundown cocktail. And best of all, no fancy equipment or refrigeration required.
I wrote all about this quick, easy and delicious perserving method for Marisa over on Food in Jars last month, check it out! Also tumeric gin is CRAZY delicious and a great way to perk up a less-than-topshelf bottle of booze.
Looking for a little something special for your New Years Eve cheese plate? You still have time to make a quick batch of Cranberry Blueberry Compote, it only takes 20 minutes! I wrote a nice little blog post about it for Marisa over at www.foodinjars.com, so head on over for the recipe. I certainly am looking forward to cracking open the wee little jar that I smuggled back from Nova Scotia in my luggage! We hope you have a wonderful celebration and send you Best Wishes for 2018!
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.
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.
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.
But I also do a lot of quick preserving that isn’t “properly canned.” These preserves are usually stored in the fridge and are made as a mean of extending the life of weekly provisions, or a way to deal with the seasonal glut of veggies at the market. One type of these preserves that have been on heavy rotation lately is Pickled Beans. Continue reading →
So, you’ve managed to convince some cephalopods that your lure looked tasty and now you’ve got a bucket full o’ squid. Visions of calamari are dancing in your head, but just how to you get from whole animal to delicious, deep fried morsels?
“Dressing” a squid does not involve turtle necks or tutus, it is just a fancy word for cleaning, gutting and preparing an animal for eating. The great thing about squid is that there isn’t anything too stinky, slimy, bloody, nasty or gross about cleaning them. Even people queasy about handle a dead chicken will probably find squid rather benign.
After 50 odd cephalopods Steve made cleaning them look dead easy, and it is. Here’s he fool proof method for dressing a squid.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: A sharp knife, a good cutting board, a bucket of sea water, maybe an old tshirt and a cold beer. Continue reading →
Shopping for fruit and veg in the Solomon Islands couldn’t be easier; most days I don’t even have to leave the cockpit. Outside urban centres like Honiara and Gizo (where there are stores and fresh markets and people have jobs that pay money) we almost never go ashore for fresh goods. Guaranteed sometime during the day at least one local will paddle up silently in their dugout canoe with local fruits and veggies they want to unload. Sometimes people want money, but more often than not they are looking to trade.
In our month in the Solomon’s I have “purchased” coconuts, oranges, papaya, bananas, pineapples, limes, chilies, fresh eggs, fern cabbage, long green beans, tomatoes, eggplants and sweet potatoes over the lifelines. As for trade items it has ranged from downloading music onto a young man’s phone to second hand clothes to a bag of salt. Fishing line and hooks are popular with the young boys while hair elastics and barrettes are a winner with the girls.
The other day, while we were enjoying the late afternoon calm and quiet of the Laipari lagoon a woman named Pauline arrived with few edible trade items, including a surprise; a large bowl of mushrooms she had just collected in the forest. This was a surprise because I haven’t seen mushrooms for months, not in the supermarkets, not in the fresh markets, not even growing in the underbrush when we’ve been ashore for a walk. But these mushrooms, besides being huge, were firm, fresh and typically mushroom coloured and shaped. She said that they grow at the base of the sago palms and have come out since the rain we had at New Years. Continue reading →
I grew up eating my Mother’s homemade granola. She made it in big batches and cooked it in the oven in the same huge aluminium pan that the 20lb turkey was roasted in at Christmas. A pan, I might add, she still has today. I used to like adding the raisins and watching them toast through the oven door. I loved when they puffed up into crispy round balls if we left it in a few minutes too long. When I first moved out on my own I would follow her recipe loosely and make my own huge batches of granola to be enjoyed with yogurt on mornings before rushing off to classes or to work.
I haven’t made granola in a really long time, quite simply because I can’t be bothered to turn on my oven. It is too fuel hungry and throws too much heat and I seem to bake everything-cakes, bread, cookies- on the stove top these days. But with all my recent yogurt making I have been craving granola. I consider dusting off my old oven toasted recipe then last month I stumbled across a Stove Top Granola recipe online and almost smacked myself on the forehead.
OF COURSE you can granola in a pan ON TOP of the stove! Why hadn’t I thought of that?! Continue reading →