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.)
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.
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.
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 →
When Steve returns from a stint away working he always brings me a few special things. This time it was some fancy hand cream, a couple chocolate bars from duty-free (chocolate is expensive in this part of the world), a can of ready-to-eat hummus, a small bottle of perfume and a bottle of hazelnut butter. An eclectic mix, but he knows me oh too well.
Also tucked into his one small piece of checked luggage was a present to me from a friend, fellow sailor and chef; a box of Spanish saffron. Small, useful, exotic and a little too extravagant to buy for myself, it was a lovely surprise and very thoughtful boat gift. Even before I unwrapped the plastic I could smell the unique perfume wafting through the boat.
Saffron is actually the stigma of crocus flower, crocus sativus. This particular crocus will not produce seeds needed to reproduce naturally and is particularly fussy about the conditions it grows in, so the whole process of producing saffron requires time consuming human intervention. Not to mention that the harvesting of the tiny, fragrant stigma is still done by hand. Continue reading →
Steve has been away for almost 7 weeks and, as per usual, while he’s been gone I have been experimenting in the galley. This time I have been making sauerkraut, and some variations, using the process of natural fermentation.
I am a big fan of sauerkraut, always have been. Growing up in Nova Scotia it was sold in every grocery store. The best brand came in a waxed paper, square container, the same as milk was sold in. It had a red and white label and the ingredients list read cabbage and salt. That brand always had just a hint of sweetness and powerful sour kick, just like the perfect dill pickle. It was sold fresh and refrigerated, no preservatives, and once opened needed to be eaten, which was never a problem in my house. Although I like sauerkraut with sausages on cold winter nights, and on hotdogs in the summer, I like it best eaten straight out of the box; a cold, crunchy and satisfying snack.
Just after Steve left in June I thought I needed a project, and sauerkraut seemed a perfect fit; it needs daily attention but takes a couple weeks to mature. To my surprise the process of making sauerkraut is simple; finely chop cabbage, add salt and knead until cabbage is limp and sufficient water is released, firmly pack into a jar/crock/container and check on it daily. The magic just happens.
Last month I finally received a new supply of mason jars. The dozen that I carefully carried back from Australia last year quickly got filled in the last round of preserving I did. My enthusiasm for canning was bolstered by my success so another yachtie and I decided to combine our order and split the shipping costs to Fiji. We tagged along on a pallet shipment that was coming from the USA, figuring it would be more economical than shipping it by regular parcel post.
As it turned out it wasn’t. I am now the proud own of some of the most expensive mason jars on the planet.
I have no doubt that the jars will pay for themselves in the long (long) run. Pickles, chutneys and the like are often very expensive, so much so that we usually fore go buying them. I love a good pickle as much as the next guy, but am not willing to spend $10-15 for a very small bottle of mediocre ones.
Some of the most expensive jars in the world
A little while ago I made a batch of my Grampy’s Sweet Mustard Pickles. We ate them on everything; cheese and crackers, ham sandwiches, a spoon straight from the jar. Out of the 9 or so mismatched bottles the recipe yielded we were down to one. Continue reading →