Pressure Cookers; A Galley Essential?

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.

Love,

H&S

Column 11, Pressure Cookers

Cave. Man. Cooking.

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.

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

Galley Notes: Pressure Cooker “Baked” Pinto Bean Brownies

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.

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Holidays Onboard

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!

Love,

H&S

Galley Notes: Cooking for Passage

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.

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Stove Top Bread Baking

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!

Markets: Food for the Soul

Amidst the unfamiliar countries and uneasiness of travel the markets are where I find a connection to the people, to the landscape. Although I have a deep and passionate relationship with food this is not why I seek out these places. It is the everyday-ness of the market that I crave.

Disconnected from family, country, home and all that is familiar the markets are a constant in our travels. The world over people grow food and make goods and sell them in a common space. The produce sold, the faces smiling back at me and the colour of the money changes but the routine is always the same. People coming together to sell food, buy supplies and socialize. Unlike the tourist I am not looking for the exotic, I am searching for the familiar.

On the remote island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia I would wake at 5am, before the dawn, and dinghy across the harbour to go to the Wednesday morning market. You had to get up that early, at 9 degrees south business is done before the wilting heat of the sun brings island life to a halt. After weeks of long passages and limited fresh vegetables I was excited by what might be there to buy.

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Bread Making Workshop or No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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.
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Home Improvements

Kate is not just our boat it is she is our home, and over the years we’ve made her a space we enjoy living in. We want our boat to reflect our lives; colourful, vibrant, exciting. We’ve achieved this the traditional way, using paint and fabrics; a sunshine yellow transom & matching headsail UV cover and in the head pacific sky blue walls and cheery lime green cupboards. But we’ve recently started doing some rather non-traditional upgrades.

Which is I recently agreed to let an almost perfect stranger in the Solomon Islands take a knife and chisel to the teak trim in the galley.

The western province in the Solomon Islands is famous for their bowls and decorations hand-carved from local hardwoods and inlayed with intricate mother-of-pearl. We heard all about it from friends we met in Vanuatu who had spent just sailed from the Solomons. We knew we have no space for such frivolous souvenirs but Steve suggested that we find a tradesman whose work we liked and him to pretty up the cabin a little. The teak trim in the galley seemed like a good place to start.

We looked at a LOT of carvings and talked to a LOT of carvers before we ran into Erol on the island of Rendova. We had been invited to the village to look at the work of all the local carvers. This suited us fine as it meant we’d be able to see everyone’s work in one hit instead of having a steady stream of canoes visit the boat- a tiresome parade we’d already had our fill of at other anchorages. Continue reading

Sprouting and Yogurt Making Onboard

On newstands now is the April issue of Blue Water Sailing magazine where you’ll find all the info you need start making yogurt and sprouting greens in my column ‘Heather Francis Onboard’. Make a healthy choice and pick up a copy today!

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