Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Perfect for a cruising boat...

One of the things I've learned to be afraid of are cook books aimed at boat-folk which always seem to be of the open-three-cans-and-mix-together school of cooking or books that seem to think you have a commercial kitchen (with a staff), three ovens and a supermarket just down the road...

The things that would make a good cookbook for boat folks are simplicity, not overlong cooking times and (dare I say it) dishes that taste really good. Not exactly rocket science but you'd be surprised at just how many boat cookbook recipes have super complicated and hard to find mile long ingredient lists, too long (let simmer for two hours) cooking times and in the end of the process taste like something you could have put together with three cans  and a dry mix sauce!

Of course, there are no shortage of great cookbooks out there just very few that are geared for cooking on boats! For example one of our favorite blogs Stone Soup just released a new cookbook "Stone Soup Minimalist Home Cooking" and it is everything that one could want in a sailing cookbook. Simple recipes with minimal ingredients, reasonable cooking times and the sort of taste that has people asking for seconds and thirds... The perfect boat cookbook if you will except that they never mention boats!

What is even better is that the cookbook is available in e-book (PDF) form and to make it even better still is... FREE! Now does that rock or what?

Do I have to say more? Go get it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A great recipe from Pacific Wave...

Pacific Wave sent us a great recipe...

Dorado Stacks with Salsa Verde

Ingredients – Serves 4
  • 4 Dorado fillets (or any other meaty white fish with no bones)
  • 1 large Aubergine (Eggplant) – cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 2 Beef Tomatoes – thinly sliced
  • 1 Small ball of Mozzarella Cheese – thinly sliced
  • 1 handful of Fresh Basil – remove stalks
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
For the Salsa Verde
  • 2 large handfuls Parsley – finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Capers – rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Dill Pickles – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Anchovies – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic – crushed
  • 3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 fl oz Olive Oil
  1. Make the salsa verde by combining the parsley, capers, dill pickles, anchovies and garlic in a bowl, then stir in the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Brush the aubergine (egg plant) with some of the olive oil and cook under a hot grill or in a griddle pan until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel.
  3. Heat a little oil in the griddle pan and cook the dorado fillets until golden brown. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan with the fish and cook for 1 minute.
  4. On 4 serving plates layer the aubergine (egg plant) followed by the basil, tomato, mozzarella and dorado. Then drizzle with the salsa verde and serve...

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

More than lentil soup...

I've always really liked lentils and they make an incredible lot of sense on a boat as they are tasty, quick to cook, and cheap...

Whole Story makes a great case for the much underrated legume. Check it out!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Would you eat this at home?

While change is most certainly in the cards for most people setting off to go to far flung places on a sailboat, change is not always such a good thing...

We have always been amazed what some people think of as "cruising food" and wonder why folks load up on some foods they would not touch with a barge pole back in their normal world. For instance, when was the last time you had folks over to the house or went out for a big heaping plate of Spam?

Spam, by the way,  is no bad thing and I have spent enough time in Hawaii to be amazed and delighted at what can be done with it, but unless you already have a taste for Spam (or other interesting canned mystery meats) you might want to rethink the canned meat scenario. On the other hand, if you have already laid in a couple of cases you might want to check out "Hawaii's Spam Cookbook" or "Hawaii Cooks with Spam" which may help you survive the experience.

Actually, cans of any sort on a boat can be problematic... It's not that they rust (but they do) or the hassle factor but simply that most canned goods are really big on additives and salt. While a can here or there is no bad thing but a steady diet of canned food is simply not real good for you. and just about every place we have ever sailed fresh vegetables and suchlike have always been available... The idea of being someplace in the Med with awesome markets and a cornucopia of fresh vegetables freshly picked and then sitting down to dinner of Libby's canned brussels sprouts you've had for a couple of years is just not part of my cruising scenario.

The fact is, most of what you eat on land works just fine on a boat  so while you may have to change some aspects of your galley experience you really don't have to swap your favorite dishes for spaghetti O's!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The cost of cruising... First steps

One way or another when you begin to cruise you will change your eating habits... Face it, it's all part of the gig and it is a lot easier to embrace this as a positive than to bitch and moan and be an unhappy camper.

Some years ago while in the Canary islands we were talking to a couple with a great boat, a large budget, and all the toys, who could not wait to get back to the US of A and quit cruising because they could not find Hellman's mayo (and suchlike) ... REALLY! The fact was on Las Palmas there is really great (exceptional) shopping and any number of excellent mayo's available and all the fixings for making mayo from scratch but for them, life without their favorite brand was just not in the cards...

Which brings us to the bottom line of eating happily on boats is you will have to be able to adapt and if anything, you should look at it as a positive and enjoy it.

Since you will have to adapt, in the long run, it makes a lot of sense to adapt with a plan rather than simply react... Whether it is evolving a more frugal diet, a healthier one, or simply taking the opportunity to get involved with various ethnic foods and means of preparation, it is always easier with a plan! Since the subject at hand is the cost of cruising we will be talking more about the frugal side...

For most folks, meat is the first problem they run into. Meat has a limited shelf life, requires either refrigeration or preservation of some form (canning, drying, smoking), and when you get to far flung places it is often not at all like home in such things like the way cuts of meat are presented or aged. Face it, when a steak is not a steak for a lot of people it is serious culture shock.

Most people simply adapt by cutting back on meat which is no bad thing health or budget wise and some even cut out meat entirely... Both options you should consider or at least factor in to the equation as one of the easiest ways to cut down on the grocery and provisioning bill is to cut back on protein costs to a need rather than want level.

Which might be a good time to point you towards a couple of great links... 10 in 10 Diet is a great resource and makes it both easy and rather tasty to adapt towards a $150 per person per month food cost scenario and The Hummus Blog which I've recently found to be a finest-kind source of frugal and very tasty recipes for a meat light diet.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The cost of cruising...

One of the problems with modern society is the cost of things seldom reflect their actual value... In fact, to say things have become somewhat nuts is something of an understatement!

Down here in the Caribbean very little is produced food-wise, so pretty much anything you find to provision comes from some faraway place. As a result the price really has nothing to do with the cost of the food but everything to do with the cost of getting that food to you and various middlemen taking a profit in the process.

Take the cherries in the picture... Coming all the way from Washington state (and they certainly show the wear and tear) the price is $6.99 a pound which in this case translates to roughly over sixteen cents a cherry! I guess I should feel better as in Japan they often cost as much as a dollar a cherry, so it could be a lot worse. Then again, I am way too cheap to spend that kind of money on low quality cherries!

The other downside is that being at the end of the line of the food train we get the lower quality, picked over and damaged goods at premium prices... Bummer!

Sadly, what few locals foods there are, tend to reflect the price established by the imported products  as opposed to what they actually cost to produce... Which means if someone here was growing cherries he'd price them to match or exceed the imported Washington state cherries which creates an even more distorted market.

Cherries are something that most of us can do without so it is easy to deal with the high prices by simply not buying them but what do you do about the items you really need and staples? How to you keep the food budget in check?

More on that soon...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I need this book!

I don't often get the urge to go out and buy cookbooks but I have been hearing so much good stuff about "The Tex-Mex Grill"  that I don't just have the urge... I need to get it!

I've been a follower of Robb Walsh for some time and he brings so much more than just recipes to the party, a thing a lot of cook book authors should seriously consider as a little history and heart really makes it all come alive.

More soon come after I get my copy...

Friday, June 4, 2010

The perfect boat coffee maker...

The espresso maker we mostly use on "So It Goes" is just a bit past it's sell by date and every day I expect it to go towards the light...

While we have a French press style coffee maker the problem is it's glass and just that little too delicate for life aboard a sailboat so we never use it as the practical toughness of our espresso make always wins out.

That said, I really like French press coffee and have been keeping an eye out for years for something tough enough for the boat and not plastic... I don't know about you but for me coffee brewed in plastic always tastes... Well, kinda like plastic!

So I was very happy to find that Coleman has a new (well at least to me) all stainless French press coffee maker and it is exactly what I have been searching for...

Life is GOOD!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Good reads...

Leslie Kelly has a great post on Serious Eats though it is hardly surprising as her Blog Whining & Dining is one of my must read foodie-on-a-budget blogs...