Archive of ‘Quick and easy’ category
Umineko set out for Allan’s Cay with iguanas in our minds. We had had to delay a day due to foul weather and the wrong winds, but we were more than ready to leave grey, dreary Nassau. I should have known something was up when one of the resident sailors at Nassau Yacht Haven looked at us incredulously that morning. “You’re going out in this?” His charter for the day had canceled. Probably a wise move on their part.
It was James Bond sailing: shaken not stirred. The shallow Bahamian seas tossed us about relentlessly, the sullen grey skies spitting rain. The wind wasn’t from a terrible angle but comfortable was about the last thing one would call the passage.
Unfortunately the winds were not in favor of us visiting Allan’s Cay that day. Instead we anchored off of a nearby cay and huddled inside listening to the rain course down the boat. As Sato San pointed out, it was wonderful for washing off Umineko’s well-salted decks after the rolly passage.
I wasn’t about to let the rain drive me to making carb-heavy comfort food. Anyway, I still needed to use up some napa cabbage left over from the previous night’s hot pot. I settled on a happy medium. A salad with peanut dressing.
I adore peanut butter. In sauces, cookies, soups… pretty much any form you can think of. This dressing is definitely a winner. It adds protein and flavor to the salad. You don’t even have to serve it as a side dish. I ate it alone for my dinner.
Naval Napa Salad
Spicy Peanut Dressing
- 2 c napa cabbage, chopped
- 1 carrot, julienned
- Dried cranberries
- Peanut dressing:
- 3 T peanut butter
- 2 T soy
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 1 T honey
- 2 t siriracha
- Mix peanut dressing in small bowl and set aside.
- Chop napa cabbage into bite-sized chunks and put into large mixing bowl
- Slice carrot into fine strips, cut in half, and toss with cabbage
- Pour dressing over and toss until salad is coated in dressing
- Garnish with dried cranberries
Speeding our way to Annapolis through grey days full of rain, mist, countercurrents, and a headwind was anything but warm. And what do you do on unheated boat when it’s cold? Bake.
I found a container of blueberries that had fallen through the cracks so to speak. By through the cracks I mean somehow it had fallen down into the depths of the back of our refrigerator/freezer. The place you can only get to by lying on the counter and leaning halfway into the refrigerator/freezer balancing and hoping you don’t fall in.
Somehow the berries had been kept just on the edge of freezing and the low temperatures had extended their life for almost 6-weeks. I recovered the berries from the frozen part of the refrigerator/freezer plump, juicy, and beautiful as the day they were plucked. Still, they needed to be used. What better an end then blueberry muffins?
Muffins and really all quick breads are great for sailing. They take almost no preparation time. I really recommend having a muffin tin aboard because muffins take significantly less baking time (and thus propane) than tea cakes. Another reason that muffins are better sailing food than tea cake is that each one is a single serving and you do not have to bother with cutting off a slice. Just grab and go. The 6 muffins I made (we only have a small muffin tin) were devoured in less than an hour. The blueberry teacake lasted 3-days before I cut it into slices and made French toast out of it.
And unlike banana bread, blueberry muffins are best hot and fluffy right out of the oven. Tasty, tender, and scrumptious you’ll want to eat so many you’ll make a good ballast for your boat.
Ballast Blueberry Muffins
Ballast: Weights to help counter-balance the effect of wind on the masts and give the boat stability.
- 3 c Flour
- 1 c Sugar
- 1 ½ t Baking powder
- ½ t Salt
- ¾ c Vegetable oil
- 1 ½ c Milk
- 3 Eggs (or 1 ½ T egg replacer)
- 1 T Vanilla
- 1 ½ c Blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (175◦ Celsius or medium)
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla
- When mixed well add blueberries
- Bake for 20-25 minutes
What trip to the South would be complete without making good old-fashioned cornbread? Well, cornbread is good, but let’s be honest, it’s all in the packaging. Corn muffins are better. Especially in terms of cruising food – easy to pick up, no knives are involved etc, and take less time to bake. And who doesn’t like an individual little muffin for oneself?
Corn meal is an interesting ingredient; it differs widely around the world both in name and accessibility. In America, almost every grocery store in North and South America carries it. In parts of South America and the Caribbean you actually have to search for wheat flour (it’s called harina de trigo) because corn meal is the norm. But in Australia it is extremely difficult to find. I searched in grocery stores all along the Eastern Coast, from Brisbane to Darwin, and found one box of cornbread mix.
But be very careful. Most grocery stores I stopped in did carry corn flour. (which I mistakenly bought) Corn flour is actually what is known in the United States as corn starch. So if you are sailing to Australia and like corn bread try to bring a few bags of cornmeal along.
This is the cornbread recipe I’ve been using for ages. I haven’t tried it with egg replacer yet, but I’m sure it will be fine.
Cabin Boy Corn Muffins
- 3/4 c cornmeal
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ 2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Heat the oven to 350º (170º C or medium)
- Mix dry ingredients together
- Stir in wet ingredients until just mixed (there should be a few lumps in the batter)
- Pour batter into the greased pan.
- Bake 20 minutes or until the tops are brushed with golden brown
- Serve hot*
*There are a lot of things that are just as good or even better cold but corn bread or muffins just isn’t one of them. I like a little butter on my cornbread or muffins. A smidge of honey isn’t bad either.
Motoring into Fort Lauderdale, there is a sign boasting that the city is the yachting capitol of the world. It is a different world: mansions with megayachts moored in front of them line the ICW. Down each of the side streets it seems as if there are boats moored in front of every home regardless of size. Even the local Episcopal church has a message to yachties on their sign. Boats are the standard rather than the exception.
Unfortunately, transient spots (places for traveling boats) for catamarans were somewhat limited. Especially the week after the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. After calling numerous marinas, I had reserved a place in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, at the downtown city docks. The dockmaster, Matt, had been extremely helpful and knew boats.
In other words he realized our timing was weather-dependent and didn’t try to pin us down to exact dates. He even knew how to spell the word catamaran, which is more than I can say for some marina workers. (“catamaran… is that spelled with a “C” or a “K”?”)
The city docks are right next to the prison. Sure it sounds sketchy, Matt told us, but it’s actually an incredibly safe place to be. The prisoners get out and no way do they want to go back. Not to mention that there is excellent security in the area.
We motored into downtown Fort Lauderdale snacking on the Riverboat Strawberry Rose Scones I had made for brunch that Sunday morning. I adore rose water. The delicate flavor adds a richness and vibrancy to almost any dessert you add it to. I am a firm believer that rose water should take its rightful place beside vanilla and almond extract in the pantry.
I first started cooking with it in baklava and I couldn’t get enough, unfortunately at the gourmet food shops you can find rose water (as well as orange flower water another of my loves), but a tiny bottle can be as much as $12-15.
Then I discovered Mediterranean and Indian groceries. A bottle 5 times larger costs a quarter the price. Thankfully rose water is beginning to make its way into regular groceries, but you can always find it in Indian or Mediterranean shops, as well as some Asian groceries.
Strawberry, rose water, and just a hint of lime combine to make a delectable tender scone. A delightful and easy snack to piece on motoring along the ICW, or just on a lazy Sunday at home.
Riverboat Strawberry Rose Scones
- 3 c flour
- ½ t baking soda
- 1 T baking powder
- ¼ t salt
- ½ butter, melted
- ½ c sugar
- ¾ c milk
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 T rose water
- ¾ c strawberries, sliced
- Preheat oven to 375◦ F (190◦ C)
- Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl and make a well in the center
- Pour butter, milk, lime juice , and rose water into well
- Mix slightly (there should still be lumps)
- Gently mix in strawberries
- Spoon large dollops onto flour-dusted tin foil
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges
I hate mornings. Not that I loathe the actual time of day. Sunrise can be stunning, animals come out to play, and the world is bright and fresh. No, what I despise is the actual getting out of bed portion of it. Leaving your toasty covers for the chill air to shock you awake, and unless it’s sweltering out the air is always chilly compared to the nice pocket of warmth under the blankets. That and the fact that I just don’t seem to function as well at that time of day. No matter what time I go to sleep, 6 am is just early.
Unfortunately, as cook, I have to get out of bed before everyone else. Nightwatch notwithstanding. Because I lack the proclivity for mornings that some do I would much prefer to have something that doesn’t take terribly long to prepare and one way to do that is to work with leftovers.
I often try and have a bit of cooked rice around because, especially on a Japanese boat, the variety dishes that one can make with a little cooked rice are astounding.
“Rice for Breakfast?” a disbeliever asked me.
Rice for breakfast isn’t simply Asian. Far from it, these rice pancakes are one of my childhood favorites. Quick, easy, and requiring minimal preparation these pancakes are perfect boat food. Sometimes I add a little corn or other veggies for variation.
Reef Knot Rice Pancakes
- 2 c cooked rice
- 4 eggs
- 2 t Vegeta or seasoned salt
- 1 T butter (for frying)
- In medium bowl mix eggs, rice, and vegeta
- Let stand 3 minutes
- Melt half of butter in frying pan over medium heat
- Spoon rice batter onto pan and fry each cake until golden brown on the bottom 2-3 minutes
- Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side
These rice cakes can be served hot or cold and are tasty either way
They say 64 is the magic number for the ICW. If your mast is over 64’ you can’t get under some of the fixed bridges. That’s what they say.
The charts and guidebooks said there isn’t a problem. You might have to check the bridge clearance signs posted beside each bridge and wait for low tide, but if you’re careful it’s fine. Lies.
In reality the “magic number” is more like 62.
With our mast right at 64’ we were nervous. Rumors were floating around about mismarked bridges and ones that were too low for our mast. It didn’t help anything that this had been an especially wet year and the canal was up.
Our second day on the canal I called ahead to a few marinas near Wilkerson Bridge, just south of Alligator River where we wanted to stay. The chart said the clearance was 64’ but we weren’t taking any chances. It was a good thing we did. The woman at the marina told me sympathetically that because the water levels had been high the bridge clearance was 62’ ½.
Unfortunately Umineko wasn’t equip with a retractable mast so we couldn’t play limbo with the bridges. If a bridge was too low, even by inches, we could lose the mast. We would have to go outside to the ocean.
We decided to stay in Ocracoke a historic beautiful island that all of the guide books talked up. Boasting a musical population (reportedly almost all of the nearly 1000 residents play an instrument), historic buildings, and incredible seafood I was surprised that I had never heard of the place. Its neighbors Roanoke and Hatteras took all the charming little fishing island’s glory. Part of the reason for its low profile could be that it is only reachable by ferry or private boat, but that is also part of its charm.
Long past the “season” the island was all but deserted. Even with a grey day and brisk air (yes, it went from being nice and warm to chilly drizzle. So far the south was not living up to expectations) it was nice. There was publicity everywhere about the island’s “claim to fame:” this was where the dread pirate Blackbeard had met his untimely demise.
Unfortunately the local seafood market was closed and there wasn’t a shrimp boat in sight. It had been ages since we had had anything Greek, so I decided to make a Greek rice dish.
It’s amazing the things you can transform rice into with just a change of trimmings. A different seasoning, add some cheese and the grain that was just used in a curry can now pass as Mediterranean.
Genoa Greek Rice
- 2 C rice (uncooked)
- 2 C water (for cooking rice)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 T dried Oregano
- 2 t cumin seeds
- 2 t ground pepper
- 1 T salt
- Juice from one lemon (about 3 T)
- 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ olive oil
- Cook rice in water. Boil 5 minutes and set aside to steam.
- Sautee onions and garlic in 1 T olive oil over med-low heat about 5 minutes in large skillet
- Add bell pepper cook 2 more minutes
- Add shitake mushrooms
- Stir in spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour over rice and mix thoroughly
- Add remaining 3 T olive oil, lemon juice, and feta.
- Serve with olive garnish (kalamata or green)
Branches scraped the side of Umineko’s hull as we motored down the narrow, winding canal. There was a line of boats inching along the ICW single file. How on earth boats passed one another when someone decided to go against the flow of traffic and head north for the winter was beyond me.
It was a completely different world from the well-manicured, wide Erie Canal. We had chosen to take the scenic Dismal Swamp route. A windy route fringed with lush foliage unlike anything we had seen along the Erie. The blue herons that followed us along the Erie Canal had become white water birds. Even the water was different; the peat growing in the water had dyed it a rusty shade that came up in our toilet bowls.
That morning we had been sure we could make it through two locks and to Elizabeth City but the languid pace that the bridges tenders and the first lock master operated on made us realize that there was no way we could make it even half that far. The second lock had its last opening at 2:30. No way could we make it there. Especially if we were stopping at the North Carolina welcome center.
And so we tied up at the North Carolina welcome center for lunch and ended up staying the night with a myriad of other boats all heading south for the winter. It was a short wall, but we all managed to squeeze in. 3 boats from Vermont rafted up (one boat ties up to the wall and the next boat ties up to the side of the boat, and so on) to one another in front of us. A lovely French Canadian couple rafted up to the side of Umineko, and a third boat rafted up to them.
Luckily no boats travel on the ICW at night because we certainly blocked even this wide part of the canal.
After a long day on the canal I decided to make something simple quick and tasty.
Everyone thinks of Japanese food as complicated and extremely involved. Some of it certainly is but I’m finding out that a surprising amount is unbelievably simple. Simple and delicious. You may have to pick up some katsuo dashi (stock) but it’s a great thing to have around. It is basically bonito soup stock. Flavorful and delicious, you can use it in a ton of quick, easy recipes that are ideal for galleys.
Ginger Chicken Udon
- 300 grams udon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 t ginger
- 1 t pepper
- ½ t 7 chili
- 2 T soy
- ½ c orange juice
- 1T butter
- ½ carrot julienned
- ¼ c onions chopped
- 1 can of chicken chunks (or one 6-oz package ginger chicken chunks)
- ¼ c katsuo stock
- Scallions for garnish
- Boil udon (about 8 minutes)
- While cooking udon:
- Fry garlic and onion in 2 t vegetable oil for about 2 minutes in medium skillet
- Add carrots and ginger and cook another 2 minutes
- Stir in butter until melted
- Pour in orange juice and soy sauce and cook stirring another minute
- Add seasonings (7 chili and pepper)
- Finally add chicken and simmer for 2 minutes
- Mix sauce and udon together and pour katsuo stock over mixture
- Serve and enjoy!
Unagi, barbecued eel, is one of my favorite Japanese foods, one of my favorite foods period. In sushi or over hot rice. But always with the sweet, savory unagi sauce over it. Yum yum yum.
When I first started crewing on Umineko, the Japanese catamaran I asked if we had unagi sauce any on board.
The skipper, Sato San, just laughed and told me that it was easy to make. I’m convinced that almost everything is easy once you know the trick. The trouble is in the learning curve. What’s easy for a Japanese person who’s grown up with making the food and for a Westerner can be two different things entirely.
One day, Sato San’s friend came for a visit bearing delicious Unagi, frozen barbecued eel.
“It’s easy as 1 2 3… one two three the same amount and just boil it… finish.”
I was slightly skeptical, but I tried it and he was so right. It really is as easy as 123. A learning gradual incline and decline rather than curve too. Over unagi it is heavenly, but over plain rice, green beans, and so much more it’s scrumptious as well.
It might be hard to find the actual unagi (found in the frozen section of most Asian groceries) everywhere in the world, or keep your freezer stocked with it, but making the unagi sauce is definitely a cruiser-friendly recipe and a great way to put in your next stirfry.
Under Sail Unagi
- 1 package Unagi
- 1 recipe unagi sauce
- 2 cups short-grained rice
- ¼ c finely chopped spring onion
- Preheat oven to 350
- Cook rice
- Place bbq eel cooking on baking sheet covered in aluminum foil
- Cook 7 minutes
- Turn on broiler and cook another 3 minutes
- Fill 2 or 3 bowls with rice (depending on how many people are eating)
- Divide eel into 2-3 portions
- Spoon unagi sauce over rice
- Sprinkle spring onions over eel
- ¼ c mirin
- ¼ c sugar
- ¼ c soy sauce
- Mix in small saucepan
- Bring to a simmer stirring occasionally
- Cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens slightly (try not to over-cook or your unagi-sauce can turn into syrup)
I’d never had egg in the hole before sailing. The first time I tried it, I couldn’t believe the delicious, simple breakfast wasn’t more popular. The perfect sailing food. One pan, you can eat it with your hands, there’s protein, there are carbohydrates. It’s quick, tasty, filling, and so easy even someone with problems boiling water can make it.
Growing up I always liked my eggs poached or over-easy (very easy). The tasty treat was getting to spread the flavorful yolk on the bread. Egg in the hole takes out the middle man. Rather than using a toaster and another pan to fry the egg this takes care of everything in one pan.
I find it especially tasty with the rich-slightly sweet Heave-Ho Challah bread.
Ease Off Egg in the Hole
- 4 thick slices of Challah (or 8 pieces of store-bought sandwich bread)
- 2 T butter
- 4 eggs
- Heat a frying pan over medium flame
- Slather one side of bread with butter and cut an egg-sized hole in the center
- Pick up a slice of bread and butter the other side and put it in the pan
- Crack one egg into the hole in the center of the bread
- Butter the unbuttered side of the cut out bread-hole and place it in the pan.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes (depending on how well-done you like your egg)
- Flip bread and cook for another minute
- Repeat process with other slices.
If you have a large enough frying pan you can cook more than one egg in the hole at a time
If you are using store-bought bread simply double-up the slices (one slice is too thin to contain the egg)
That’ll happen when pigs… swim?
That’s right, we made a pilgrimage to see the Big Major Spot in the Exuma Islands famous swimming pigs. They were Sato San’s #1 reason for coming to the Bahamas. After all, where else in the world can you see pigs take to the water? (Don’t worry, I’d never heard of them either before Sato San told me about them)
Before we had even dropped anchor three large hairy brown pigs with black spots were already paddling through the swimming pool blue water out to the boat. We had been fastidiously saving our organic waste, orange peels, wilted cabbage and that sort of thing for what we thought would be treats for these swimming garbage disposals.
We tossed some old papaya and cabbage leaves in the pigs’ direction. They stroked over to see what treats we were throwing them, their noses bent up out of the water like natural snorkels. To our shock, after a brief glance the pigs turned away from our offerings and started piggy-paddling over to the cruiser couple dinghying up. They wanted nothing to do with fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Get the bread!” Sato San cried: one pig still remained at the boat.
“You want to feed them my bread?!” I cried, appalled. I had baked two fresh loaves of bread that morning. I was loathe to sacrifice one to pigs, but if that was what worked. Heartlessly, I hacked into the fluffy loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, still warm from the oven, and brought a slab to the pig.
Tearing off a hunk, I threw it to the bristled boar (or possibly sow, I just like the alliteration). The vegetables may have not been tasty enough, but the swimming boar certainly slurped up the bread bits with gusto. After the slab was gone the pig paddled over to the other boaters in the dinghy nearby.
These were clearly a different breed than normal pigs. More than simply discriminating, the animals looked different from what I think of normal farm pigs. They were covered with a thick layer of coarse tan hair with black spots. Maybe they just had great tans or this environment wasn’t suited for pink pigs.
None of us had gotten our fill of pigs so we broke out the paddle-board. One slab of bead in my mouth I paddled over to the pigs and the dinghy. My ploy worked and I lured two pigs over. I was slightly nervous when they bumped into my board a few times but then I started throwing the bread further away from me. I would throw it to the pigs and it would land just out of the poor dear’s reach. Though the pig could swim, he still was about as aerodynamic as a brick and had to paddle an entire 360◦ circle before finally claiming the prize
Schools and schools of large (tasty-looking) fish had been gathering in the meantime. Soon it was a race to see who could snap up the bread the fastest. More often than not it was the fish. My forlorn little piggy friend swam up to the side of the paddle board, leaned his head back and opened his mouth for me to lob the bread in.
The whole clan of pigs was gathering on the beach to watch the action. The three we had met has apparently merely been the pig vanguard. More and more pigs joined the fun, some young spotted piglets who couldn’t have been more than a couple months old at most, and then several of the cutest tiny pink babies, no bigger than a small Chihuahua.
Sato San took the paddle board intent on luring the babies into the water and back to the boat. I’m pretty sure he was thinking of taking one with us for dinner. They’d made me promise to cook bacon for lunch after all.
That was it; the day was hot, the delphinium blue water beaconed. I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped in the water and swam to the beach to play with (and rescue) the piglets. The adorable little ones hadn’t quite taken the plunge, but they knew what humans were for and pushed their little snouts into my hand looking for food. I scratched a few behind the ears and watched the sows burrow down to make themselves beds in the cooler sand. I laughed as little pink baby buried his head all the way up to his shoulders digging.
It’s interesting; the characters for dolphin in Japanese are for “sea pig.” These sea pigs aren’t quite as graceful as dolphins, but they certainly are entertaining. True to my word I made traditional (bacon) yaki soba for lunch and the boys ate it while we watched the young pigs frolic in the waves.
Swimming Pig Yaki Soba
- 4 slices bacon each slice cut into 3
- 1 ½ c Cabbage sliced (about ½ ’ by 2’’)
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 pks ramen (1 pk per person)
- Yaki soba powder (1 pk per person)
- Fish powder
- Bonito flakes
- Aonori powder (seaweed powder)
- Shredded red ginger
- Boil ramen noodles for 2 minutes… not entirely done (1 pack per person)
- Drain noodles
- Slice cabbage into ½” in by 2” strips
- Put bacon in medium-sized skillet over medium heat
- Cook until crispy
- Add cabbage and cook stirring constantly until cabbage darker green, about 3 min
- Add ramen noodles to cabbage seafood mixture and stir until well-mixed
- Stir in yaki soba powder and fish powder until completely mixed
- Mix in spring onion
- Top with ginger, bonito flakes, and aonori powder
- Enjoy! (preferably not watching piglets romp in the surf)