Waking up in lock 14
As lock 14 opened, we were the first in line to go through. Literally. We had actually slept in the lock the night before. We needed to get through 14 locks all the way to Albany by the end of the day. We pushed and pushed but the sun was already starting to set by the time we made it to the first guard gate before the flight of five locks at Lockport. We radioed but no luck. Finally, as a last resort I called Jeff the Erie Canal Navigation manager. We just had to make it through to Albany.
Once again Jeff saved the day and got the operators to get us through the flight. We sneaked past Troy Federal lock in the nick of time just before they closed at 10 and motored into Albany in the Erie barely lit by my crewmate Mori-San shining a lamp to make sure no logs or flotsam was in our way.
By the time we finally moored I was beyond exhausted, but between holding lines and pushing walls and closing times to get through the locks I hadn’t had time to even think about dinner.
Wraps are a staple for quick and easy lunches or a late-night snack while on watch. Tortillas keep for ages without molding and you can put pretty much anything inside of them. These wraps are more for a little more involved than just throwing something together but it’s worth it.
Crewing on a Japanese boat, I find myself using a lot more soy sauce and ginger in my cooking than I normally do. But I always used those. The I have discovered a new favorite ingredient. Corn starch. It’s flavorless, doesn’t add color, texture, or nutritional value, but I am hooked. You can thicken sauces without having to cook them endlessly… a few minutes and presto you have a delicious thick sauce. Better yet it cuts down on propane use.
On Watch Shitake Wraps
makes 3 wraps
- 1 T garlic jelly
- ¼ c soy sauce
- 1 T fresh ginger grated
- 1 T sesame oil
- t veg oil
- ⅓ lb shitake mushrooms
- 1 T corn starch
- salami (if desired)
- slice of swiss cheese (I used individually wrapped cheese for this)
- tomato sliced into wedges
- Mix the sauce and marinate the mushrooms in it for 5-10 minutes
- Fry the mushrooms in the sauce mixing in cornstarch until thickened
- Place one slice of cheese on tortilla
- Spoon mushrooms over followed by tomatoes
- Finish with sprouts, wrap, relax, and enjoy!
Even taking our time it didn’t take long for us to make it to Utica Inner Harbor where we were leaving Umineko for a week. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait quite 3-weeks. New York Canals said they would open for 3 days starting on October 1st (oh wait, no… October 4th now) so that the cruisers with a draft under 7-feet could get through. Then they would close the canal for the season to work on it.
Sato San took a holiday in Montreal and I went down to New York City to see friends and meet our new crew member, Mori San.
As a last meal on the boat I wanted to use up the remaining crepes and make a savory dish. I learned a version of this cleat-off crepe cannelloni while traveling in Argentina and have loved it ever since. A quick, easy, delicious, and healthy dish that takes almost no time to prepare. If you already have the crepes on hand, that is.
Cleat-off Crepe Cannelloni
- 1 recipe Cardinal Crepes
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ c mushrooms, sliced
- 1 T (3 t) Italian seasoning
- ½ t salt
- ½ t pepper
- 6 oz spinach (frozen)
- 4 crepes
- 1 c mozzarella cheese
- ½ jar pasta sauce
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ c mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 325◦
- Sautee the onion in large skillet about 3 minutes
- Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes more stirring
- Add the spinach and cook until warm stirring occasionally
- Stir in 2 t Italian seasoning, salt, and ½ t pepper
- Line lasagna pan with tin foil
- Put one crepe in the pan
- Spoon ¼ mushroom spinach mixture into crepe
- Spoon ¼ c mozzarella cheese on top
- Fold into tube and move to end of lasagna tin
- Repeat with remaining crepes
- Spread pasta sauce evenly over crepes
- Shake remaining 1 t Italian seasoning over crepes
- Sprinkle remaining ¼ c cheese over top
- Bake for 15 minutes
We moseyed our way down the Erie Canal. We had 3-weeks to kill going through 9-locks. Sailing is always game of hurrying up and waiting, but this was even more frustrating than normal. We weren’t waiting for the right weather; we were waiting for work to get done. To take a little more time and show Marion, our guest star crew, something a different side to boating, we anchored out on Oneida Lake for the night.
Clear skies, not a breath of wind, it was perfect weather for it. In the crisp cool late-September air I decided to bake a little sweet treat to keep our spirits up.
My friend Helen’s son calls red bean paste “Chinese Chocolate,” and I think that’s the most accurate description I’ve heard. I have loved the sweet paste since the first time I tried it. Whenever I go to Chinatown I never fail to pick up one or two bean paste buns for the road.
It wasn’t until crewing on a Japanese boat that I discovered how easy anpan, the bean paste buns, were to make. Well, especially if you have a can of red bean paste. Net step, making it from scratch…
Anchor out Anpan
- ½ recipe heave ho challah dough
- ½ can red bean paste
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F
- Beat egg and water together to make egg wash
- Form golf ball-sized balls of dough
- Flatten into circle in palm – circle should be about 1/8 in thick
- Spoon 2 T re bean paste into center of circle
- Pull opposite ends of dough up, pinching together in the middle like a drawstring purse
- Place on greased baking sheet pinched side down
- Brush tops with egg wash
- Bake 20 min or until tops are golden brown
Cooking up a storm
We’re stuck. We got the news this morning when Sato San went to pay the marina bill. Brewerton Boatyard had just gotten the fax. The Erie Canal was closed for repairs. Locks 12-14 were drained. For 3-weeks.
Marion, our French crew-member, had taken her 2-weeks of holiday to spend sailing up the Erie Canal with us. She’d only been with us 2-days and now we were stuck! Even worse, we had plans to meet friends at Annapolis Boat show on October 10. If the canal was closed for 3-weeks there wasn’t any chance we could make it to the boat show on time.
I called, hoping to find out it was all a big joke, a mistake, some kind of misprint anything! But no. Flooding had washed out reinforcements and a dam was on the verge of bursting at lock 13. It just wasn’t safe to keep it open.
The canal’s navigation manager tried to help us figure out an alternate route. Going North and up to Montreal might work… Umineko only had a 3’ ½ draft… But when he asked our beam he groaned. The narrowest lock on the Chamblee Canal was only 21’ wide. There wasn’t any way we would fit through. We were stuck until they opened the canal.
In the face of disaster we did the one thing we could: turned to sweets. I grabbed the sugar and started in on my twist on a traditional French dish.
Canal Closing Caramel Apple Crepes
- 1 recipe Cardinal Crepes
- 1 recipe Cumulus Carmel Sauce
- 1 recipe Cinnamon Sugar Apple filling
- Spoon cinnamon sugar apples onto crepe in line
- Spoon a bit of caramel sauce over
- Fold edges over until tube-shape
- Drizzle caramel sauce over top
Cumulus clouds indicate fair weather and caramel sauce always lifts the mood and thus cumulus caramel sauce earned its name
Caramel is basically burnt sugar, well singed a bit, but it always tastes delicious, and the more cream and butter you add the better. I almost always have sugar around but don’t often carry cream on board. No worries though because caramel sauce, caramel candy’s thinned-down cousin doesn’t need cream to taste delicious.
Cumulus Caramel sauce
- 1 c sugar
- 2 T butter
- ½ c water
- Spread sugar in thick-bottomed pan and melt over low heat stirring constantly until liquid and turning golden brown
- Remove from heat and add 1 T butter stirring furiously as sugar boils up and butter melts into the mixture. When mixed add second tablespoon of butter.
- Return to heat until mixture liquid
- Add thin stream of water stirring constantly until a thin consistency
- Remove from heat and enjoy
- You may want to add a few tablespoons more water if the sauce starts to thicken.
Cinnamon-sugar Apple Filling
- 2 granny smith apples peeled and diced
- 1 T lemon juice
- ½ c sugar
- 2 T cinnamon
- Place apples and lemon juice in saucepan over medium-low heat
- Mix in cinnamon and sugar
- Cook for 3 minutes, or slightly longer depending how well-done you like your apples
For some reason over the years crepes have gotten the reputation for being difficult to make. Creperies sell the thin pancakes for exorbitant amounts of money for this unbelievably simple dish.
This quick and easy dish takes the bare minimum of ingredients and can be whipped up in no time so is ideal cruising food. Though not really much on their own, you can use the crepes to create sweet dishes or savory ones. They can also be made a couple of days in advance, or if you make too many simply cover them with a moist paper and they will keep beautifully.
- 2 c flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups water (or milk)
- Pinch salt
- Pinch sugar
- A little oil for greasing the pan.
- Pour flour into a large mixing bowl
- Whisk in water (or milk but water actually works better for a thinner batter and thinner crepes)
- When semi-mixed add eggs (egg replacer will not work for crepes), salt, and sugar
- Beat until smooth consistency (no more lumps) If you have a food processor on board that’s the easiest way.
- Heat lightly-oiled skillet over Medium-high heat
- Ladle about 1 ladle-full of batter into skillet
- With one had hold the skillet handle, tilting until surface thinly covered with batter
- When crepe edges lift up slightly, 1-1 ½ minutes, flip the crepe
- Cook an additional 30 seconds-1 min
Umineko’s basil plant had seen better days. Its leaves were getting brown spots and the verdant green it started out with had turned into a peaked yellow-green with brown spots. I tried for days to talk myself into squinting just right and pretending it was the same vibrant shade of green that it started with was still there, but I had given up. Whether it was because the temperatures were getting too cold, not enough sun, or whatever else the unfortunate plant was not happy. I was beginning to think that basil isn’t up to the extremes of the cruising life. Well at least not with me. This basil plant was destined for Pesto. With a capital P. Or at least a severe pruning.
Now much to my chagrin, we don’t exactly have a food processor on board. What Sato San refers to the Magic Bullet mixer we have is “as seen on TV.” But sometimes you just have to make do.
I wasn’t really in the mood for pasta, but pesto works well in so many things. Sandwiches, wraps, appetizers, and of course pizza… that was it! Pizza! I’d had my first pesto pizza at one fantastic pizza place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I can’t remember the name of the place but it’s right off the Bedford L stop. Not an especially fancy place but open late and home to a phenomenal pesto pizza with whole cloves of roasted garlic and all sorts of deliciousness.
I know that pan-fried pizzas are more boat-friendly, but somehow there’s just something about an oven-baked pizza. Of course we didn’t have a wood-fired oven on board or even close to the right type of oven, but still. I wasn’t sure how often I’d be able to make pesto pizza, especially in lieu of the fact that my basil plant was looking peaked, and wanted to make a special pizza.
Everyone has their own favorite pizza toppings so I divided the pizza into three. After all, three of us on the boat, and there are three prongs of Poseidon’s trident hence Poseidon’s Pizza. Sato san got shrimp, salami; I put capers, feta, shrimp and tomatoes on mine, and Marion opted for feta, olives, and red bell peppers.
I’m still not quite sure how to get the crust thin enough for a New York style pizza, and I wouldn’t dream of stepping on the toes of some of the world’s finest pizzerias, but even with a thicker crust the pie wasn’t bad. Quite the reverse; pizza rarely comes out terribly, but this one was a huge success.
I highly recommend making pesto pizza, even with store-bought pesto, when you have the chance. I am a bigger fan than standard pizza with marinara. Give it a try and I would love to hear what you think.
Maybe you can get your crust thinner than mine…
Poseidon’s Pesto Pizza
- 1 recipe pesto sauce
- 1 recipe passagemaker pizza dough
- 1 ½ c Mozzarella cheese
- Black olives
- Whole cloves roasted garlic (precook a little while the oven is heating)
- Or your favorite toppings!
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Roll out dough and place on baking sheet or pizza stone
- Spread pesto on dough
- Sprinkle cheese on top
- Arrange toppings
- Place in oven
- Bake 30 min
- 1 ½ c basil
- ¾ c walnuts
- ½ c olive oil
- ¾ c grated parmesan
- 2 ½ T lemon juice
- 1 t salt
- 1 t ground pepper
- Put garlic and nuts in mixer followed by basil, liquids, and seasonings
- Pulse first and then blend until almost a paste.
Hauling out is an endeavor even when it’s just routine, but when it’s chilly outside and you really have to stay on your unheated boat hotpots are the only answer.
Umineko rested high above the Brewerton Boatyard. Her engine needed some work before the sea cat returned to her salty home.
Brisk would be an understatement for the chill air. Our breath billowed out in clouds of steam, not a terribly fun thing when you are on a boat “built to sail in warmer climates” (translation: no heater on board). And as the sun sank the temperature dropped.
“Hotpot” Sato San suggested. I was all for it.
Hot pots, or nabe, are normal “student” food in Japan. It’s easy to make, filling, and healthy. I didn’t believe Tanaka San, our crew-mate when he told me it was easy, it looked so complicated and involved but the more hot pots I make the easier it gets. I suppose everything is easy once you know how to do it. Hot pots are marvelous for but warming the stomach on a cold night.
This is a Kombu hot pot, with kombu soup stock, seaweed soup stock, as the star of the show.
- Portable burner*
- Large, deep skillet
- Ladle with holes
- 2 T sake
- 2 T kombu soup stock
- 1 t katsuo dashi (bonito fish powder)
- 6 c water
- 7 pepper seasoning
- Chinese Cabbage chopped into 3-4’ segments
- 3 Leeks chopped into 3-4’ segments
- 1 bunch Green onion (chopped into 3-4’ segments)
- Whatever other vegetables you have on hand
- 4 uncooked mochi squares
- ½ c Sliced squid
- ½ c Imitation crab
- ½ c Scallops
- ¼ c finely chopped scallions for garnish
- 2-3 packages of ramen noodles
- Place mochi squares and ½ of chopped vegetables in large deep skillet or pan, setting aside ½ of chopped veggies in a bowl on the table
- Pour in water, until vegetables covered
- Add kombu and katsuo dashi, and sake simmer (covered) 5 minutes.
- Add imitation crab, and scallops and simmer 2 minutes
- Add squid
- Ladle out 2 cups of broth into bowl and set aside
- Transfer to portable burner in the middle of table and turn to low flame.
- Every person at the table puts 1-2 T kombu soup stock, and/or ponzu, and 7 chili seasoning in his or her bowl (to taste)
- Ladle hot pot “soup” into bowls.
- Sprinkle scallions over bowls
- Enjoy, continuing to add ingredients to your bowl until skillet is almost emptied of ingredients and just delicious soup stock is left
- Add remainder of vegetables and allow to simmer for 5-8 minutes
- Continue eating until veggies are almost gone. By this time the broth has become unbelievably flavorful.
- Add remainder of stock set aside before round 1
- Bring to a boil
- Add ramen
- Allow to cook for 3 minutes
- Serve final broth and ramen
I rarely make it as far as round 3, filling up on all of the veggies and seafood is usually enough for me.
Alternately you can save the broth for breakfast or lunch the next day with rice or noodles.
*If you do not have a portable burner on your boat I highly recommend getting one. It is a great back-up in case your propane runs out in the middle of cooking dinner. This way you can continue cooking dinner without having to change the propane tank first. It is also great to take to the beach etc.
“I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal. 15 miles on the Erie Canal She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ol’ pal. 15-miles on the Erie Canal…”
When Sato San first asked me to crew up the Erie Canal with Umineko, I was sure it had something to do with my name. How appropriate. Having Sal crew up the Erie Canal. Maybe I could pull the boat to save on gas too, right? Surprisingly when I mentioned it, he had never heard of the song. I guess they don’t teach “Low Bridge” in Japan.
I’d never even thought of sailing up the Erie Canal but it sounded interesting. It was a part of the US I had never explored; even living in NYC for 7 years, I’d never been further than an hour upstate. Leave it to someone from another country to show me parts of the United States.
I’ve been making variations of this “Thai” curry for almost a decade and it’s one of my “go-to” dishes. It’s nothing like the” traditional” Thai curries I learned at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but I like it as well or better. You can really use whatever vegetables that you like and you don’t have to use seafood. The sauce is the important part. I love using broccoli when I have it, though not traditional in Thai cooking, I find that the crowns absorb sauce making each bite a burst of flavor. I also like having at least one green vegetable, a yellow, and something red because it just makes the dish look prettier.
Canal Sal’s Thai Curry
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 can coconut milk
- ½ can water
- 1 T honey
- 3 T red curry paste
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1T lemon juice
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T siriracha sauce
- 2 t salt
- 2 t ground pepper
- 1 t 7 chili seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 small onion diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ sweet potato cubed
- 1 branch of broccoli (crown and stem) chopped
- 2 T grated ginger
- 1 kefir lime leaf
- 9 large shrimp
- 1 c small scallops
- Peanuts for garnish
- Fry the onion, garlic, and sweet potato over medium heat in 1 T vegetable oil about 5 minutes
- Add coconut milk and water
- Stir in bell pepper and broccoli crown
- Add ginger and kefir lime leaf
- Mix in curry paste until coconut milk is a warm red color
- Slowly add soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and Siriracha,
- Simmer for 5 minutes
- Add shrimp and scallops cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp barely pink
- Add salt, pepper, and 7 chili seasoning to taste
- Sprinkle peanuts on top
Peach Blueberry Pie
Peaches are one of my favorites, the problem with them is their fleeting life-span. With about 3-days of perfection before all the peaches seem to go downhill (fast) the only fruit sillier to take cruising would be berries.
We were finally back on the water again, sailing across choppy Lake Erie, the smallest of the great lakes, to visit some friends in Cleveland. They had invited us to dinner and I was thinking about making a peach pie for days. A dinner party was the perfect excuse.
When I went to check the produce safe and sound in its fruit hammock, I was shocked. In 2 days the peaches had gone from perfect to teetering dangerously close to unsalvageable. I cut the bad parts out and substituted blueberries for the missing peaches. Thank goodness I did. The pie came out gorgeously. Give it a try with frozen fruit or pick up some juicy peaches at your local farmers market during peach season!
Paddle Wheel Peach Blueberry Pie
- 1 recipe Painter Piecrust
- 4 peaches (sliced)
- 1 c blueberries
- ¾ c sugar
- ¼ c flour
- 1 T cinnamon
- 2 T butter
Preheat oven to 350◦ F
- Roll ½ piecrust recipe out being careful not to work dough too much
- Place in pie tin
- Mix peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries
- Fruit will give off liquid and get soupy
- Mix in ¼ c flour until liquid thickens.
- Pour into prepared piecrust bottom
- Place small pieces of butter over fruit filling
- Roll out second ½ of dough
- Drape over pie tin
- Pinch edges together
- Poke holes in crust with knife to let steam escape
- Cover edges with strips of tin foil (to keep from browning too much
- Bake 30 minutes
- Remove tin foil
- Bake additional 10 minutes
- Allow to cool
Just like the painter ties your dinghy to the dock a good pie crust is what ties a pie together. There are many myths going around about the difficulty of making pie crust. Just like everything, it’s simple… once you know how to do it.
Every baker has their tricks to a perfect light flaky pie crust. I’ll do my best to talk you through it.
The most important things are keeping the mixture cold and not working it too much. The trick is make sure as little gluten builds up as much as possible.
Painter Perfect Pie Crust
- 3 c flour
- 1 c butter
- 1 t salt
- 5 T ice water
- Put flour and salt into food processor.
- Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks
- Pulse the food processor in about 5 2-second bursts or until mixture forms pea-sized lumps*
- Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
- Add ¼ c ice-cold water sprinkling over mixture
- Mix in, working as little as possible, until dough forms a cohesive ball
*Alternately, f you do not have a food processor on board (I don’t) use kitchen knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Run cold water over your hands or hold ice until your hands are very cold. Dry hands.
Gluten only forms when you add water, so your chief mixing is before you add the water. Why do you stop with pea sized lumps, you might ask. Well, because having different materials, some flour with butter in between, are what makes your pie crust tender and flaky. In other words, you don’t want your pie crust too well mixed or it will turn out as tough as cardboard.
Now I am a fan of the traditional butter piecrust. It tastes better to me and gives great flaky layers. You can use shortening which is easier to work with, or a mix of half-butter and half-shortening.
Just remember the cardinal rule:
Cold hands + Cold butter + Ice water = flakey pie crust