Archive of ‘Breakfast’ category

Breakwater Breakfast Burritos

Umidori1 300x224 Breakwater Breakfast Burritos   “flot flot flot… flot flot flot…”

I was trying to get some sleep before my watch when I heard it.  Damn, another flying fish flew in the hatch, I thought.  I’ll just get it when I get up.  I promptly rolled over and went to sleep.

My alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and I dressed for watch.  Just before going up, I went to the head (toilet) in my room to brush my teeth.

“Oh!” I cried, as I turned on the light.  A pigeon-sized dark-grey bird sat on the floor looking up at me.  I went outside and brought Mori San, who was just going off watch, in to see.  He must be one of the little dark birds we had seen flitting over the waves almost our entire 4,000 nautical mile passage.

I say he because everyone on the boat was convinced that any bird visiting the girl’s cabin had to be male.  I pointedly ignored Zeus comments.

Umidori2 300x225 Breakwater Breakfast BurritosI had wondered how on earth these birds managed to make it so terribly far from land without rest.  We were thousands of miles away from any land.  Maybe that was the reason the little guy made his way into my cabin.  He just needed a break.  With a long curving beak and clear dark eyes I wondered what kind of bird my new friend was.  I did want to make sure he was okay.  It was night, but he seemed far too sedate to be entirely healthy.

I took a towel out of the bathroom cupboard and covered the bird, and scooped him into my arms.  He weighed less than air as I carried him outside.  He didn’t struggle or put up the least bit of resistance to my moving him.  I was worried.  Had he hurt himself on his way inside Umineko?  Was he sick?  Wild animals tended to avoid humans like the plague unless they are sick.

 

Umidori on deck 300x225 Breakwater Breakfast BurritosSetting him on a bench I filled a small bowl with fresh water and placed it in front of our visitor.  He didn’t pay a bit of attention to it** nor did the flying fish I offered have any effect.

After 10 minutes he got down off of the bench and moved into the saloon.  He tucked in behind the table and made his way into the darkest shadowy corner he could find, away from the red light in the saloon.

“Maybe just needs to rest,” Toshi San suggested.  “He wants to go somewhere that’s quiet.”

At 5:45 the faintest hints of light brushed the Eastern horizon.  Dawn was on its way.  I went inside with the towel.  I didn’t want dawn to come and the bird to start flying around the boat.  It was vital to get him out when it was still dark.

He wasn’t in the saloon.  He wasn’t on the port side, I peered down the dark steps to the starboard side.  There he was, a darker pool in a darker shadow resting at the bottom of the two stairs.  Directly in front of Mori San’s berth.  I breathed a sigh of relief that Mori San hadn’t needed to use the head and accidently stepped on our guest.

xbreakfast burrito egg cheese 300x225 Breakwater Breakfast BurritosThis time when I draped the red towel over him he struggled.  I smiled as he tried to stretch his wings and placed him on the back of the port side bench.  After a few minutes he hopped down to the bench, and then thought better of it.  My heart soared as he flapped his way back up to the ledge.  A few minutes more and he disappeared into the dissipating night.  He had just needed a place to rest.

Finding a bird in your cabin is fun, always provided you don’t step on it.  On the flip side spent the next day cleaning up er… presents our friend had left.

I love breakfast burritos.  They are healthy, tasty, and meet the requirements of sailing food:  Easy and portable.  Even better, they don’t require complicated ingredients.  If you have leftover rice or beans from the night before they’re a fantastic way to use up ingredients.

 

Breakwater Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients:

  • xbreakfast burrito filling 300x225 Breakwater Breakfast Burritos4 tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of cheese (or 8 small slices)
  • 2 c rice
  • 2 c black eyed peas (soaked and cooked)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T taco seasoning
  • Salsa
  • Oil

 

 

Directions:

  • Crack egg into nonstick skillet over medium heat
  • Immediately lay tortilla over egg squish around so that tortilla is coated in egg
  • Allow to cook 2 minutes and flip onto plate
  • Fry garlic in oil for 2 minutes
  • Spoon rice and black eyed peas into pan
  • Mix in taco seasoning
  • Put tortilla in clean skillet over medium heat, egg-side up
  • Lay cheese on top
  • Spoon ¼ of mixture onto each of the tortillas
  • Wrap and serve with salsa

xburrito finished 300x225 Breakwater Breakfast Burritos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*When handling wild animals always wrap them in a towel.  This is safer for both of you.

  1. Wild animals don’t know what is happening to them.   More often than not they are terrified of the person holding them and the towel protects you and curbs their movement.
  2. It is terrible to get human scent on the animal.  Often others of its kind will shun it after that
  3. It is some protection from disease

**In retrospect he probably didn’t know what fresh water was!  Sea birds have internal desalination systems so that they can just drink sea water.  There have been numerous times at sea I wished I were built like that.

Fair Winds Flying Fish

xflying fish 300x224 Fair Winds Flying Fish

A scream of stark terror pierced the night.

“What happened!?”  Toshi San was quick to ask.

I tried to forget the memory of the cold, slimy form wriggling between my toes.

You don’t expect to step on a flying fish in the hallway to your cabin.  The hatch hadn’t been open more than a crack, but somehow the creature had found its way in.  They were everywhere.

Like gifts from the sea gods, heaps of flying fish graced our trampoline and deck every morning.   We had so many, Sato San started noting how many fish we’d gotten on the daily log.  Each line had date, Position, how many miles we had left of the total, position, temperature, and number of flying fish noted.

 

 

 

 

 

xdaily log board 300x224 Fair Winds Flying Fish

Daily Log Board

On every other yacht I’d sailed flying fish were thrown over the side.  The ones who crashed harder were cursed for smearing the deck with their scales  (a nightmare to scrub off once you were in port).  Umineko was different.  Once,  I threw one over the side and Sato San gasped in horror.  We can eat those!

 

 

 

 

 

xsally prepares 300x225 Fair Winds Flying Fish

I had never even considered it, but he explained to me he really wanted flying fish for breakfast the next day.  Yup, you heard right.  Breakfast.  Sure,  fish for breakfast may sound strange to Westerners.  I was certainly surprised.  But I am almost always up for trying new things.  After all, why crew on a Japanese boat if you don’t want to expand your culinary expertise and horizons?

And there it was.  Flying fish were on the menu.   But making one type of fish dish is boring.  I had to diversify.  Soon it became a challenge.  What different types of flying fish could I make?

 

 

xcookingff 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishAfter about a week of flying fish for breakfast Sato San was still gung-ho about the whole thing, but other crew members (whom shall remain nameless) were pleading for a Western breakfast.  Flying fish are quite tasty prepared the right way, but no matter how many variations you make no matter how hard you try they don’t do very well in American-style pancakes.

You cruisers may have never thought about frying up your flying fish, but I highly recommend it.  Fish you don’t even have to hook?  Why not?  The Umineko boys were all about the bigger the fish the better.  I have a different take on things.  The small ones take less work.  Like a lot less.

 

xcookingff2 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishWhen a flying fish gets to a certain size they grow scales and you can’t eat the bones.  I’m not a huge fan of or expert at descaling and filleting fish.  It’s even more annoying when there are a ton of flying fish to clean.  But the captain liked them.  I got pretty skilled at it, though I still was much happier when the little ones offered themselves up for our breakfast.

As they are a bit of a chore to clean maybe not cooking them every day they appear on the deck, but I definitely recommend giving them a try once or twice.    As I mentioned, I tried quite a  few takes on flying fish, but this was one of my favorite recipes.

Fair Winds Flying Fish Donburi

xflying fish donburi 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishIngredients:

  • Rice, cooked
  • Pickled veggies  (we use pickled daikon(takuan), kimchee, and whatever other pickles we have)
  • Flying fish, cleaned
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin (you can substitute 1 T water and 2 t sugar)

 

 

 Directions:

  • xff donburi2 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishHeat butter in pan over medium heat
  • Fry garlic for 1 minute
  • Add flying fish, skin-side down and cook 2-3 minutes (depending on size)
  • Flip fish and cook another minute
  • Add soy sauce and mirin and cook one more minute
  • Serve over rice with pickles

Captain’s Call Rice Cakes

DSCN1158 300x224 Captains Call Rice Cakes

Okay, this was in Panama… we sailed past the Galapagos in the dead of night but hey, islands.

The Galapagos.  Ever since reading the Kurt Vonnegut book I had wanted to sail there.  Almost every cruiser heading through the Panama Canal to the Marquesas stops off at the Galapagos.  It’s the logical stopping-point to break up the prodiigeous 4,000 nautical mile passage.  Sure, it’s a lot closer to Panama, about 845 nautical miles away.  But still, it’s a nice break  to help you remember what land feels like.

Toshi San and I both really wanted to go.  Mori San wouldn’t have minded either (provided there was a post office there, Mori San’s one requirement for visiting even the remotest of locations).  Unfortunately Sato San was dead set against it.  It was costly, there was a lot of paperwork, we might use up too much fuel, and he was in a bit of a hurry to reach Darwin for the start of the Sail Indonesia Rally in July.  Then there were the sea lions.  He’d heard horror stories from our friends in the previous WARC about sea lions climbing up on boats and making their noisy, stinky, aggressive selves at home.

Still, we were sailing within 10 nautical miles of the islands, near enough to smell them, without stopping.  Sadder still our friends on Spirit of Alcides were taking the time to stop and explore the islands.  But as much as Toshi San, Mori San, and I wanted to go, it wasn’t up to us.  Though crew may offer suggestions, a boat is not a democracy.  The captain always has the final say.

Though it can be frustrating, the captain really does have to have complete control of what goes on on a boat (this control does not extend to the galley.  I am captain of my galley.  It helps the boat run smoothly and keeps things together in rough seas or trying times.  Not that the captain has to be a Bligh or anything.  He can listen, but bottom line is that, the captain always has the final say.  Alas this meant I didn’t get to visit the Galapagos this time around.

I was on watch with Toshi San at 3:30 am when we sailed by.  Oh there was joking about “accidently” going off course and ending up there but no.   No giant turtles or blue footed boobies for us.  Not this time. I guess I have to save something for next time around.

DSCN1212 300x224 Captains Call Rice CakesThat morning we had left-over rice from the night before.  Rice is integral in Japanese cooking.    From the start Sato San made it clear that at least one meal of the day should be accompanied by rice.  I usually cook just the right amount.  But what happens when you make too much rice?

Growing up one of my favorite left over breakfasts was rice cakes.  Now “rice cake” can mean so many different things.  Of course there are the Styrofoam-like “healthy” rice cakes.  You know, the ones that taste like nothing unless they are flavored with some salt or seasoning?  Then there are Korean rice cakes which are similar to Japanese mochi.  These dense cylinders of  rice flour pressed into a chewy pasta are used in one of my favorite dishes, dduk boki.

 

These rice cakes are completely different.  They are more like rice pancakes.  They make an easy and tasty breakfast not to mention being  a wonderful way of using up left-over rice from the night before.

 

 

Captain’s Call Rice Cakes

Ingredients:

  • DSCN1211 300x225 Captains Call Rice Cakes3 c cooked rice
  • ¼ c spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ c canned corn
  • ½ c fake crab meat, chopped (optional)
  • 2 T Vegeta seasoning
  • 4 eggs
  • Oil for frying
  • Okonomayaki sauce (optional)

Directions:

  • Put rice in large bowl
  • Mix in eggs, corn, fake crab meat, and vegeta
  • Scoop onto oiled skillet with ladle
  • Cook in oiled skillet over medium heat until golden, 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Serve hot

rice cake with okonomayaki 300x224 Captains Call Rice Cakes

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

DSCN0956 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Sailing into Chichime Island, skirting shipwrecks and coral heads, was stunning.  A lush palm forest ringed in transparent turquoise.  I understood why backpackers paid upwards of $500 for a week squeezed into tourist boats like so many sardines to visit the famed San Blas Islands.  A glimpse of this paradise was almost worth it.

Dozens of masts reached up to the sky greeting us as we sailed up to Chichime Island, San Blas.  We were with the World ARC round-the-world rally, at least through the Panama canal.  It wouldn’t be anything like sailing with the previous year’s WARC rally since we would just be with them for a few weeks.  Still, both Sato San and I were more than a little nostalgic.

 

DSCN0990 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhen the Rally Control, or WARC organizers, boat motored up to us in a little dinghy, we were delighted to see some of our old friends.  To make it even better, we were in San Blas, Islands which I had been curious about ever since I heard about them years before when traveling through Colombia.

For a first breakfast in San Blas I had made one of my favorite omelets.  Fish sausages are one of my favorite cruising foods. In reality they are really less of sausages and more like plastic-wrapped fish hot dogs.  Actually that’s not quite fair as they are really tasty.  The most exciting thing about them, and what makes them a wonderful cruising food is that they don’t need refrigeration.  I’m really not sure how many preservatives are used in them, but they last for ages.

 

The fish sausages can be used in a lot of things, but one of my favorites is to make an omelet out of them.

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, to grease the panDSCN1022 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ c milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Japanese fish sausage, sliced
  • 2 slices cheese, halved
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped

Directions:

  • DSCN1023 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper
  • Heat oiled large nonstick skillet over medium heat
  • Sauté onion and pepper in small skillet, about 5 minutes
  • Pour egg mixture into pan and cook until starting to solidify, 2-3 minutes
  • Sprinkle onion mixture over half of the omelet (the less-cooked half if there is one)
  • Arrange fish sausage over mixture
  • Lay cheese slices on top
  • Fold omelet over the filled side and cook another 2 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

Cutter Cuban French Toast

Wandering the streets of Havana Vieja is like a photographer’s wet dream.  I walked from the historic Hotel Nacional with its crystal chandeliers, ornate furnishings, and pictures of stars who had visited from the 1920s to today.  I walked through the crumbling sections, with the locals playing football, baseball, or dominoes in the street, and finally to the touristic “Havana vieja,” refurbished, reconstructed, and fit for outside eyes.x havana corner Cutter Cuban French Toast

xconstruction2 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastLike a post-apocalyptic Cartagena, vines and decay are well on their way to reclaiming parts of the city .  Stunning art deco buildings are crumbling in disrepair.  Bullet holes in buildings stand as ghostly reminders to the class war that ended Batista’s era of opulence.  It would be tragic, but for the vibrant Cubans living in the ruins.  The juxtaposition of the glorious architecture and the inhabitants, each one a story in him or herself is incredible.  It is like walking back in time.

xclassiccars4 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastCars from the ‘40s, and ‘50s line the streets.  I had heard of this phenomena, but I thought it would be one or two, but no.  Every second car is a beautiful vintage automobile.  The engines have been replaced by Russian diesel motors, but the shape that they are in is fabulous.

 

 

 

xcomputer 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastOne of my favorite corners had a building that said it all.  The skeletal remains of a building with the street sign “Havana” still hanging on the corner.  A Canadian cruiser I know lamented the art deco buildings falling into ruin.  No amount of reconstruction could help these buildings.  Not when the rebar skeletons of the buildings had rusted and collapsed.

 

 

xconstruction 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastAccording to him what they needed to do was just to tear the buildings down and rebuild them from the inside out.  Brushing up the exteriors wouldn’t prevent the building from collapsing in a year or two.  When I peered inside some of the buildings I was shocked.  Many of the buildings with passable exteriors were destroyed inside.  But with Havana a UNESCO world heritage site it was illegal to tear the buildings down.

 

xfruitseller 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastIn the potholed streets surrounded by dilapidated grandeur, fruit sellers pedal their wares, children play games, and day to day life continues.  But one story up, buildings appear in better repair.  The people leaning out over their balconies and interacting with one another from on high fascinated me.  The colorful clothes hung out to dry and their residents washing windows, chatting, or gazing out at their surroundings piques the curiosity.

 

xbalconylife 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastI am overjoyed that I got to see Havana when I did.  Before it was flooded with American tourists.  Before it was remodeled into something else entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

xunloadingboxes 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastThis French toast is a delightful twist on the normal style.  More than that you can just throw it in the oven and then everyone’s breakfast is ready at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

To me rum always gives French toast a little something extra and, of course, some of the best rum in the world comes from Cuba.

xlegendario 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastMy absolute favorite rum is a Cuban brand called Legendario.  The sweet nectar is certainly meant to be sipped in small quantities than mixed or (god forbid) used for cooking. Okay, it’s more of a liqueur than a rum.  Even though I didn’t actually use this delicious drink in cooking I thought a picture of the bottle was necessary when writing about Cuba.

 

Cutter Cuban French Toast

Makes 6 portions

xxbakedfrenchtoastpan 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxxbakedfrenchtoast 300x225 Cutter Cuban French ToastIngredients

  • 1 ½ c butter
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • 2 T molasses
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 French baguette, sliced in about ½”  slices
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ c milk
  • ½ c rum
  • 2 T sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F 170° C
  • Combine butter, 1 ½ c sugar, molasses, 1 t cinnamon, and nutmeg in saucepan
  • Cook over med-low heat stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture is uniform
  • In a small bowl whisk together vanilla, eggs, milk, rum, and remaining t cinnamon
  • Arrange bread in greased baking pan in two layers (a lasagna pan is ideal)
  • Pour egg mixture over bread
  • Bake ½ hour or until center has risen slightly
  • Enjoy!

Remember to take all of it out of the pan immediately.  When the sugars cool they will harden and stick!

xyoungmother 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxwhitereligion 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxunloadingboxes 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxstreetlife5 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxstreetlife4 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxstreetlife 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxsquarehavanavieja 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxruined inside building 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxrooster 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxoldcarruins 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxmonument 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxhotelnacional2 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxhorse2 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxfort 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxfootbalinstreet2 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxeggman 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxdominosinstreet 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxcubanwoman 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxcubanflags 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxbalconylife9 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxbalconylife6 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxbalconylife4 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toastxbalconylife2 300x225 Cutter Cuban French Toast

Gaff Guava Feta Pastries

guava feta pastries2 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries

Salud! Education! Seguridad!

Cuba’s motto and Castro’s battle cry. Health, education, and security.  Well, Cuba certainly has all of those things, but at what cost?  Cuba has an excellent health care system.  In fact the Cuban government is encouraging foreigners to come for medical tourism.  Unfortunately, especially in smaller towns, it is difficult to even get soap.

ration card 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
Even in Havana women come up to tourists begging for soap.  They have a wonderful education system, completely free.  Though many Cubans informed me that much of it is indoctrination rather than freedom – education, but only if you pledge your loyalty and life to the Party.  Numerous Cubans I met were self-educated to avoid this system.  The other problem with this education system is that people with doctorates end up working as garbage men, surgeons as bartenders.  An education is a wonderful thing, but it only means something if you are able to utilize it.

As far as security goes, Cuba has very little crime which is wonderful.  The flip side is that the government rules with an iron fist.  One of the expats told me that there was a robbery at the marina a few years earlier.  When the yacht owner complained four employees were fired.

ration card 2 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
On my way to Havana University I met a 40-something Cuban man.  Jorge was tall, slim, and delighted to talk about life in Cuba, he sat with me on one of the benches and chatted for over an hour.  Since Raul had come to power people were able to privately own certain things and have businesses.  There were also more religious freedoms which extremely important to Jorge.
I strolled around the beautiful grounds of Havana University.  Its stately architecture and wooded park reminded me a little bit of Columbia.  Not 15 minutes later two Cubans approached me.  Going to Cuba you are told never to talk politics in Cuba but it seemed like every Cuban wanted to tell you about their life.

Havana University2 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
I won’t say a word about politics, but listening to Cubans is another story and it is fascinating hearing the different viewpoints.  When these two, a man with skin the color of a café ole and startling blue eyes, and a short plump woman, approached me I was extremely curious to see what they had to say.  I listened, fascinated as they recounted the glorious history of their beloved government.  Batista’s government was racist, sexist, and above all classist.  Then the revolution changed everything.  Now Cuba was egalitarian, truly a utopia to hear them talk.  “Salud! Education! Seguidad!” seemed to be every third sentence. Their fervor was impressive.

Havana University 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries

They offered to take me to a student bar that foreigners couldn’t go to alone.  There we could continue our conversation.  I should have declined, but I was curious. Besides, I had another hour to kill before I met the French Canadian expat from the marina at the University.  We went to the student bar, just a few blocks away the Cubans spouting propaganda the entire time.

The bar itself was all-but empty.  We ordered drinks and talked.  After a few minutes they started talking about the monthly allowance for food and the woman pulled out her ration card.  She didn’t have enough to eat and she had a son, could I please help?  Cubans were only allotted a certain amount to eat every month.  They could buy more but because the monthly salary was so low it was hard to get by.

There it was.  The pitch, the begging.  Unfortunately often Cubans, especially younger Cubans, are effusively friendly to tourists because they want something.  In my experience it has always been money.  Sadly, quite a few Cubans try and romance lonely tourists, aging men or women, and get them to marry them.

If your government is so wonderful then why do you need to beg for food?  I thought, but bit my tongue.  They clearly didn’t see it that way.

I didn’t have much money so as badly as I felt I couldn’t give her anything.  No, I didn’t want to buy cigars from them either.  Then they came with the check for the drinks.  This was another scam, they had arranged it with the restaurant to “invite” a tourist and have her pay for their drinks and they would get a portion of the profits.

I didn’t like it, but I did pay 10 CUC for the drinks. I was paying for the lesson. It was an eye-opening afternoon.  When I met the French Canadian, he told me that as an ex-pat living in Cuba on and off for 3 years he only had one Cuban who he would call a friend.  Tourists were walking ATMs.  They would never steal.

Cuba is an extremely safe country, but begging, sob stories, and scamming tourists into handing over their money was standard. As friendly as they seemed, Cubans didn’t really want to be friends… they were looking for an “in” so they could find a way out.

I’m not entirely sure if I believe everything that he told me, but I was certainly more on guard after that.  We took the circuitous (and extremely cheap) bus system back to Marina Hemmingway.  As soon as we were back I went to the galley to do some baking.  After the bitter experience, however interesting, I needed something sweet.

Guavas are ubiquitous in Cuba and Central America so guava paste is common in deserts.  In Colombia one of my favorite snacks is called bocadillo con queso, which is basically guava paste with salty cheese. The combination of sweet and salty is delectable. Many shops also sell buns filled with a bit of guava paste and salty local cheese.

Not surprisingly these guava and salty cheese buns are popular in Cuba as well, but are more for special occasions.  In honor of being in Cuba I decided to make guava feta buns. The Cuban kitchen cookbook says that traditional Cuban bread is a delicious sweet bread with eggs.

Unfortunately those days are long gone.  With 5 eggs allotted per person per month Cubans have to use their eggs wisely.  The other problem is that flour in short supply (I couldn’t find it in any local shops in Havana or Jaimanitas and no one could tell me where to get some).  Generally Cubans just buy their bread from a local bakery that bakes two or three ways of baking the same bread dough (buns, longer baguette loaves, and maybe hard bread sticks).

I took it old school. Instead of old-fashioned Cuban bread I substituted Heave Ho Challah.  The resulting guava feta pastries were delicious. For something a little different these pastries are a lot of fun.  You can buy cans of guava paste in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores in the States and most places in the Caribbean and Central America.
Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
Ingredients:
1⁄2 recipe Heave Ho Challah bread dough
1⁄2 c feta cheese crumbles
Guava paste
1 egg beaten (optional)

guava feta pastries11 300x225  Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F 170 ° C
Divide dough into plum-sized balls
Flatten each ball either with palm or a rolling pin into circle
Spoon 1 T guava paste and 2 T feta in the middle of each circle
Fold edges around paste and cheese forming either little purse pockets or crescent rolls
Brush with egg wash for a beautiful golden brown color
Bake for 20 minutes

Backstay Basil Tomato omelet

xomelet 300x225  Backstay Basil Tomato omelet

 

Cuba is one of the most fascinating and frustrating places I have visited.  The local population and the foreigners are in two worlds and the government does everything it can to keep them separate. Cuban citizens aren’t allowed in marinas if they are not working there. No Cuban who isn’t on official business, in other words checking a boat in or out of a marina, is allowed on a boat or even allowed to stay in the same hotel room as a foreigner.

Because of this, several of the expats living at the marina had married Cuban women or rented flats outside of the marina so that they could be with their girlfriends.  I heard stories of foreigners who had rented a hotel room for a night with a Cuban girl, but the hotel made the foreigner rent two rooms.  The whole thing seemed strange to me from the start and the more I learned the more unsettling.

tourist havana 300x225  Backstay Basil Tomato omelet
The average monthly wage for a Cuban is between $18-25 CUC a month, or about $20-28 dollars.  Doctors or garbage men it doesn’t matter.  The wage is the wage.  Cubans aren’t paid in CUC, or onvertible pesos, though. They are paid in pesos nacional, or national currency.  To reinforce the separation of Cuban and foreigner there is a dual currency system. 1 CUC is 24 pesos nacional.  In more touristic areas foreigners are charged about 30 times as much as locals.

The dual currency system actually did not start because the government wanted to separate the locals from foreigners though.  A little over a decade ago, US dollars were flooding the black market to the point that it was in danger of destabilizing the economy.  To fight this, the Cuban government came out with CUC and told Cubans that they would buy their US dollars with this new currency at a 1-1 rate.  And thus the dual currency system came into being.

xfruitsellerhavana 300x225  Backstay Basil Tomato omelet
Now CUC are strong, worth about $1.20 USD (and there is also a tax for converting USD to CUC.  If you
go to Cuba I suggest bringing Euro or Canadian dollars) but the dual currency system is annoying to say the least.  You can buy some things with pesos nacional but not with CUC and vica versa.  Almost any shop in more touristic areas will only accept CUC from foreigners, however the local markets only deal in pesos nacional.

I love going to farmers markets, or any open-air market with fresh produce and local color.  They always seem to have better produce and fresher products.  Not to mention the fact that I am er… frugal and would rather have adventures to stretch my money than fall back on the easy option.Street stands in Havana sold produce as did the Saturday market in Jaimanitas, the town within walking distance of Marina Hemmingway.  There isn’t a whole lot of variety in the markets, but they generally have tomatoes, small onions, and bananas. Sometimes eggplant or beets and I did see lettuce once.  Curiously they don’t have potatoes though.

xjaimanitasmarket 300x225  Backstay Basil Tomato omelet
Backstay Basil Tomato omelet
5 eggs
1⁄2 c milk
1⁄4 c fresh basil
1 T dried basil
1 tomato, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 small onion
2 t olive oil

xomelet2 300x225  Backstay Basil Tomato omelet
Directions:
Whisk eggs and milk together
Sauté onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil small skillet with dried basil about 3 minutes
Heat 1 T olive oil in large skillet
Pour in egg mixture and cook 2-3 minutes until solidifying but slightly liquid on top
Spoon onion mixture over more liquid half (for some reason 1 side always cooks more quickly on Umineko)
Lay tomato slices over onions
Place leaves of fresh basil over tomatoes leaving several sprigs for garnish
Fold other half of cooked eggs over ingredients
Cook another 2 minutes
Divide and garnish with basil sprigs

Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

feta leek quiche 3 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

 

Bent Rudder

x bent rudder 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

Spirits were high motoring out of Gaviotta Bay.  We were going to Cuba!  Cuba… home of the mojito and the daiquiri, with salsa, fabulous music and better cigars.  The Bahamas had been lovely, but we were ready for a little culture and some fabulous night life.  Maybe some lush jungle treks as well.  Who knew everything Cuba had in store.  We were more than ready to explore all that it had to offer.

I was in the galley making grissini for the passage when a spirit-crushing crunch shook the boat.  The guttural scrape of metal on rock tore at your very soul.  It was sound that made fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a choir of angels.  What had happened?

“It was so shallow. There were so many rocks,” Sato San said numbly.

Sato San went into the water. He didn’t come back with hopeful news.  The starboard rudder was bent.  Not just bent, the fiberglass had been shattered.  We motored to a mooring ball and tried to think.   Plans can change in an instant.

The Spanish aptly named the Bahamas – Baja Mar because the sea is so shallow.  We hadn’t thought anything would happen just coming out of the bay.  Accidents always happen when you let your guard down.

Umineko is a catamaran so we did have another rudder but what if something happened to that rudder?

No, we needed our starboard rudder.

Would we have to go back to the States to haul out and replace the rudder?  What could we do in the Bahamas?  We’d even had problems finding places to haul out a boat with a 24″ beam in the States.

There couldn’t be somewhere to haul out around here, could there?  At least we were at the St. Francis headquarters so it would be easier to order a new rudder here.  If they even had a rudder for the 23-year-old first hull.

x signs 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche
I was near tears when we dropped the dinghy and headed over to St. Francis Resort to talk to George.  If anyone could give us advice it would be him.  In his jovial South African accent George managed to cheer us up a bit.  Apparently, we had tried to leave
at low tide, the worst possible time.  He could talk to St. Francis headquarters in South Africa, but he wanted to look at the rudder first.  They had to straighten one or two rudders a year, so it was possible he could fix it in his workshop and get a nearby boat yard to repair the fiberglass.

George is a legend.  He straightened the rudder shaft in an afternoon and by that evening had the thing being fiberglassed at the boat yard. It would take some time to set though, he warned us.  I shuddered to think what that might mean in Bahaman time.

George must have bribed, threatened, or implored the boat yard because three days later we had our rudder back.  On the fourth day we were underway to Cuba (again).  Though the stress was dreadful, having those extra days in Gaviotta Bay was lovely. We met some delightful people and managed to have a classic Umineko karaoke party the day before we set sail.  If you go to George Town, Bahamas I highly recommend stopping by St. Francis Marina.  Great drinks, some of the best calamari I have ever tasted, and lovely people.

I also got to make a few more tasty treats in preparation for the passage to Cuba.  I love quiche because it is easy and delicious hot or cold.  I bought a large chunk of feta the month before in Florida.  Keeping it frozen I was using it for special occasions and I thought that we needed some tasty food in light of upsetting events.

x fixed rudder 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche
This quiche is easy and tasty, but I do not recommend trying to make it underway because the filling has the unfortunate tendency of spilling all over the oven when there are even little waves.
Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

Ingredients:
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 c heavy cream
1 t pepper
1 t salt
4 eggs
½ t thyme
½ c feta, crumbled
½ recipe painter perfect pie crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F (170C)
Whisk eggs, cream (or milk), and spices in medium mixing bowl
Roll-out pie crust dough
Put into pie tin, pinching edges into a crust
Bake for 20 minutes
Scatter feta and half leek slices over bottom of pie
Pour egg mixture into pie tin
Arrange remaining leek slices on top of pie crust
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling puffs up in the center and is solid to the touch

x feta leek quiche 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

feta leek quich 2 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

How do you store eggs at sea?

x buying eggs in cuba  How do you store eggs at sea?

How do you store eggs at sea?

It’s the question I get asked the most.

You do not need to refrigerate eggs:  The United States is the exception rather than the rule.  Most countries don’t refrigerate eggs in the store.  In nature the birds actually keep the eggs warm to incubate them.  It would be counterproductive if the egg went bad before it could hatch, right?

Eggs have natural defenses against the bacteria that make eggs go off.  By following a few simple rules you can keep your eggs for well over a month.

Buy unrefrigerated eggs: It can be difficult to find unrefrigerated eggs.  Even at farmers markets eggs are often refrigerated on the way to be sold.  Unfortunately once food has been refrigerated it doesn’t last as long if you take the temperature up.  It is definitely possible to keep eggs that have been refrigerated at room temperature; they just will not last quite as long as ones that haven’t been.

Buy unwashed eggs: When the egg is laid it has a protective coating on it.  This natural sealant prevents oxygen or bacteria from getting inside the shell which is what makes the egg go bad.  Unwashed eggs may look a little dirty.  Okay, some may look completely disgusting with dirt, bird poo, or other grossness on them.  However, this is actually better.  If you are really grossed out by it then you can wash the eggs yourself just before using them.

Buy the freshest eggs possible:  Duh, right?  Something that has been sitting on a shelf for weeks won’t last as long as something completely fresh.  Grocery stores unfortunately are not the best place to find fresh eggs.  That said, getting in touch with local farmers is almost impossible when you are cruising and unless you know the farmer you can’t be certain how fresh the eggs really are.

Vaseline: If you can’t find unwashed eggs (and let me tell you, it’s a challenge in the United States) then you need to simulate the protective coating.  A very thin layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly is cheap and works wonderfully.  That said, you can use any type of sealant.  I have heard coconut or vegetable oil works well too, but I think it might be a little thin.

The other problem with unwashed eggs is that they are probably from a privately owned farm.  This is wonderful for the chickens, the taste of the eggs, and the freshness.  However, these eggs will undoubtedly be more expensive and chances are it will be difficult to buy enough for a long passage.

  putting vaseline on eggs  How do you store eggs at sea?

Examine:

Going through the eggs some of them will probably have compromised spots.  Some might be cracked, others may have spider-web marks that indicate the shell may be weaker.  Even if the egg is slightly cracked you do not need to throw it away.  Just be sure to put them into a smaller container and use them within a day or two.

  x spiderweb cracks where eggs will first go bad  How do you store eggs at sea?

Flip the eggs: To prevent the yolk from settling and sticking to the shell it is important to turn the eggs every 2-3 days.  You don’t have to turn each individual egg.  Just flip the package.  I am (horrors) keeping the eggs in the original cardboard container and just flipping that every few days.  I know I shouldn’t, but I’m not sure what else to keep them in.

Freezing eggs:  It is possible to freeze eggs if you have enough freezer space.  I’m not a huge fan of this method.  If the freezer lets the eggs unfreeze then they go bad in less than a week.  In my experience even without complete thaw, the yolk runs into the white and the consistency changed.

But how should you store eggs at sea?

These are the best tried-and-true methods of keeping eggs “fresh” at sea.  These aren’t hard and fast rules.  By no means do you have to follow them all. What I generally do is to buy eggs in a grocery store use Vaseline and turn them every 3 days.  In other countries I try to buy eggs at markets.  Even when I buy unwashed eggs in foreign countries I coat them in Vaseline.

One boat I crewed on we didn’t bother to put Vaseline on the eggs and they went bad in a week!  There is a reason rotten eggs have a bad reputation.  It really is the worst smell in the world.

The last time I left the States, we bought 15 dozen eggs from Costco.  Refrigerated, washed, and surely not the freshest eggs, time, price, and convenience were the main factors.  Still coated in Vaseline and flipped every few days it was 5 weeks before any of them went off.  Considering you can buy eggs in most places I don’t think I’ll need them to last much longer than that.

In a perfect world I would buy the freshest, unrefrigerated, unwashed eggs.  But it is a balance.  You may not have all the time in the world, unlimited amounts of money, or even a car. The bottom line is that you have to do what’s comfortable for you.   Weigh how much time going to organic farms will take and how much it will cost vs the convenience factor.  How much freezer space, time, money, and how much you like eggs.  Whatever the case, keeping eggs for long passages at sea is more than possible.

Just remember, after about a month make sure to check your eggs often and throw bad ones away if there are any.  Also be sure to crack each egg into a small bowl before transferring it to whatever you plan to use it in.  You do not want to spoil an entire dish with one bad egg.

Somehow I am reminded of the old egg commercials.  I can’t fight it any longer.  I have to end this entry with their tag line:  the incredible edible egg!

Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

x ginger pancakes Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

Umineko has been plagued with sickness.  Nothing terribly serious, but I’ve had a cough for weeks and now Mori San has come down with it too. Cough drops, vitamin C… all to no avail I even got one bottle of cough syrup in George Town, went through it, and started on the second.  Nothing could shake the miserable cough. I didn’t feel bad, other than feeling a little guilty for preparing food with a persistent cough. I even started wearing surgical masks while I cooked.

It could have been the weather. Grey skies and rain had plagued us throughout our time in “sunny” Florida, and the sullen weather had followed us all the way to Nassau.  Even though vitamin C tablets weren’t working I wanted to do everything I could to kick the cough.  Especially after Mori San caught it.  Soup is fantastic, but not always the most practical at sea.  Ginger on the other hand.  Ginger is the miracle cure for everything.  From seasickness to pretty much anything that ails you.  And so ginger it was.  I slipped a little (or a lot) of ginger into almost every meal, until miraculously the weather, and our coughs vanished a couple days outside of Nassau.

We anchored off of Shroud Cay, an island we had gotten an inside tip on, well, the prettiest beach in the Bahamas lay just through a thicket of mangroves.  Sato San, Taira San and I set out to see this beautiful beach, both of them in the dinghy, me paddle boarding behind.

 

paddle board and dinghy Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

We crept through the maze of winding mangrove channels.  How the plants managed to thrive in salt water always impressed me.  I love exploring mangroves. No matter how rough the seas outside get, the waters inside provide a calm haven.  A separate ecosystem grow up around their roots.

 

mangrove channel Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

We trekked over a sandy hill scrub brush covered hill at the end of the channel.  There it was: the secluded white sandy beach so unlike most other beaches in the Bahamas.  A make-shift swing hung from a tree branch and several hammocks that had succumbed to the ravages of time hung in tatters marking the work of cruisers before us.

We played on the beach to our hearts content, but the wind was picking up.  We needed to get back to the boat and move on.  Sailing in 15-20 knots is gorgeous.  Dinghying in that is less fun.

One of my favorite creations from the sick days was ginger pancakes with ginger sauce.  I am a confessed pancake syrup snob. Our store of Canadian maple syrup was dwindling and I wouldn’t subject myself or anyone else on Umineko to fake maple syrup.  The only thing to do was to make my own syrups or sauces.

Ginger honey butter is a stand-out sauce that would grace any pancake, ginger or not.  It isn’t bad drizzled on bread either…

 

 

Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

2 cup milk

3 c flour

2 T lime juice

¼ c sugar

2 eggs

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

½ t salt

 

Ginger sauce

1 T ground ginger

2 T grated ginger

1 T honey

4 T butter

x beach fun Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

 

x beach jump Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

 

 

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