Archive of ‘snacks’ category
A flight of something thwacked into our path as we were dinghying across the Bahamian waters.
“What do you think that was?” the captain asked me.
“Flying fish,” I replied. What else could it be?
“Calamari!” the captain replied, grinning and holding up a small squid.
I had never even heard of flying squid before a sail around the Bahamas several years prior, or since. Until the passage from Panama, that is. The first day after we passed the Galapagos flying fish started appearing on our trampoline. Gifts from the sea gods, of course. The first day there were a few flying fish and one little squid.
Cook them for breakfast, Sato San urged. The flying fish were alright, but the squid was scrumptious.
“There’ll be 10 squid this morning,” I said to Toshi San on watch that night. I didn’t really believe it, but to my delight there was a flock of flying squid on the trampoline as the sun came up. Not quite 10, but enough for a tasty snack.
That morning for breakfast I served them as a side dish to our usual rice breakfast. They were delectable, perfectly done. And what a wonderful addition of fresh food to the provisions! Unlike catching monstrous tuna or mahi mahi you aren’t eating it for weeks either.
We didn’t have as many flying squid gifts on the trampoline, but they really are delicious. I highly recommend frying them up if you find them on your deck or trampoline on passage. You do have to take out the little plastic-y tube
Falling off Flying Squid
- ½ lb squid, about 10
- 2 T soy
- 1 T cooking sake
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T butter
- Clean the squid, they always have a little plastic-y tube inside but they are usually small enough not to have a beak or anything else that needs removal. Place in small bowl
- Sprinkle cooking sake over squid (it removes any possible odor)
- In small frying pan heat butter over medium heat
- Fry garlic 1-2 minutes
- Add soy
- Cook squid 30 seconds on each side, they will plump up a little bit and translucent flesh will turn opaque
- Put over rice
If you’re going to keep the squid until lunch you might want to refrigerate it.
Mooring Buoy in Gatun Lake
We have seen some strange moorings, but tying up to a big floating mooring buoy with other boats rafted up to us may have been the oddest. Imagine a floating steel barrel as a mooring. Now imagine a boat on either side. Then two other yachts rafted up to them. It was not the ideal situation, but it was our only option. We couldn’t make it across Gatun Lake at 8 knots so we had to go through the last two locks the next day.
Gatun Lake was extremely deep and we just didn’t have a long enough chain to anchor like the massive ocean liners did. None of the yachts did. So despite vehement protests from Toshi San, that it just wasn’t safe, we had to moor on the dubious steel mooring. At least our friends on Spirit of Alcides were on the opposite side of the buoy which was nice.
We bid farewell to our adviser and settled in.
Apparently we had a slightly better time through the Gatun locks than Spirit of Alcides, or at least a better rafting up partner. Where we had been rafted up to a lovely Canadian couple and their friends, Alcides had a much more colorful experience. They had gone through the Gatun locks rafted up with a Jamaican fishing boat. And all that that entails.
More rust than metal, Johni John sailed in its own personal cloud of smoke. A sailing stereotype, the fishing vessel had such an overpoweringly Jamaican “smell” our friends on Alcides were practically getting high just rafted up to the vessel. I didn’t believe them until I saw the boat the next day.
Johni John and Island Girl in front of Miraflores crowds
A new adviser came to our boat the next morning and we were off motoring our way across Gatun Lake to Pedro Miguel lock.
Ship behind us
We rafted up with Spirit of Alcides just before entering the lock. Ahead of us was a monohull called Island Girl who had the dubious honor of rafting up with the Rastafarian Johni John, and behind us was massive ship. Having a ship that large so close may have been a bit intimidating, but in the daylight, with an adviser whose English was fluent, our transit went as smooth as silk. I even popped some of my favorite popcorn for all of us to enjoy. We smiled, waved at the crowd, and handled the lines like pros.
Just a short motor-sail away were the Miraflores locks. Nearest to Panama City, this lock is home to one of Panama’s biggest tourist attractions, the Panama Canal museum where tourists can watch ships transiting the canal pulled through by the mechanical mules. We would be on a live feed broadcasting worldwide. We had to look our best.
Alcides and Umineko motored together between locks like a pair of Siamese twins. Whether it was Johni John or Island Girl, the two boats decided to break apart between locks and raft back up inside the lock. Our adviser cringed when he saw this happening.
They made it through Pedro Miguel without any problems, but it got out of control at the second Miraflores lock. We watched aghast as the pristine white Island Girl, caught in the strong current, swung far over to one side of the lock. The beautiful yacht tried to compensate and get back over to their canal partner when an eddy caught it. Suddenly the engines were clearly doing everything they could to keep it away from the fishing vessel they needed to be rafted up to. The strong currents were too strong, too fast for the boat’s engine.
ambulance at the lock
No one could look away. It was like watching a car accident in slow motion. Island Girl was sucked into Johni John’s rusty steel hull. There was a sickening crunch that we all felt. We waited, and waited. Our adviser informed us that we were waiting for an ambulance. Island Girl’s captain had been injured*. This was the first time he had seen this happen in his 23 years as a Panama Canal adviser. Whoever made the call to ignore their adviser paid dearly for not paying attention to the professionals.
Though the second Miraflores chamber didn’t go quite so well for everyone, involved,* the first with the crowd was lovely. To celebrate I popped some popcorn and we shared a bottle of celebratory wine with our canal buddies Spirt of Alcides.
Sally at Miraflores Locks
Popcorn is one of my favorite boat snacks. You can find unpopped kernels in almost any country for next to nothing, it’s easy to prepare, and
great to snack on. Besides, who doesn’t love popcorn? My recipe for popcorn is a bit different though. I grew up with popcorn seasoned with Spike salt substitute and nutritional yeast. Just this makes tasty popcorn, but I took it one step further and added a third ingredient, Vegeta. You can find all of these ingredients in most health food stores and some grocery stores as well.
Panama Canal Popcorn
Panama Canal Popcorn
¾ c popcorn
- ⅓ c vegetable oil
- 2 T nutritional/brewers yeast
- 2 t Vegeta
- 2 t Spike
- Put popcorn into the bottom of a large pot
- Pour vegetable over kernels making sure they are covered (just barely)
- Cover with lid and cook over medium heat shaking occasionally
- When popping slows, after around 4 minutes, remove from heat
- Pour half into a bowl and season with half of seasoning
- Pour remaining popcorn into bowl and shake other half of seasoning on top
*Island Girl´s captain was not badly injured. He hurt his wrist trying to keep the boats apart and was out for a week but there were no breaks on person or yacht.
Bridge of the Americas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
1⁄2 recipe Heave Ho Challah bread dough
1⁄2 c feta cheese crumbles
1 egg beaten (optional)
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
Pinky and the Brain
Before we could even pick up a mooring ball off of George Town a dinghy motored up, calling to us. “We have a mooring ball for you. Just follow me.,” a boy who couldn’t have been older than early 20′s led us around the island to the St Francis Resort. We had been looking forward to getting to the North American St. Francis headquarters. We had met George, the owner at the Annapolis Boat Show and it was always nice to see other St Francis catamarans; Umineko was a St. Francis. The first hull. But we hadn’t expected such a warm welcome.
I was still glowing from my dolphin encounter the day before. But one of my priorities reaching land was finding a home for the orphans I had acquired…
When I opened a interesting fan-shaped mollusk I had collected, I discovered two tiny baby lobsters, one pink, the other so young it was still clear. The pink one was about 1/18” from the tip of his claws to the end of his tail and the clear one smaller yet. I dubbed them Pinky and the Brain and put them in a make-shift salt water terrarium determined to find a home for them with someone on land.
The first thing I did when getting to the bar (well, after ordering a delicious frozen strawberry daiquiri) was ask around to see if anyone would take my charges. To my delight George’s wife offered to. This delightful woman adores animals and welcomed Pinky and the Brain into her menagerie. It was a wonderful introduction to the St. Francis Resort.
Okay, so it may be in poor taste to have a lobster spread, but it’s not like I actually ate either of the babies. Even nicer she doesn’t even like lobster so Pinky and the Brain are safe from becoming an appetizer.
I created this spread on crewing on a different boat and it is divine. You don’t need a food processor to make it but it is handy if you have one.
Luffing Lobster Spread
- 1 package Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1/4 c lemon juice
- 3 T milk
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 T salt
- 3 or 4 steamed rock lobster tails (about 2-3 lb lobsters)
- Steam lobster tails
- While steaming tails mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl
- Chop tails finely and mix into cream cheese mixture
- Chill in refrigerator for a day for the flavors to blend (if you can wait that long)
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.
Yachting puts things in perspective. All along the Erie Canal people marveled on Umineko, a 43’ catamaran’s size. She was enormous. In places it was difficult to find places to moor, we couldn’t take the Chamblee canal because we were too wide! A big fish in a small pond.
As we sailed into Charleston, Charleston City Marina informed us over the VHF radio that we would have to stay on their megadock. Another boat was staying in slip they had Umineko scheduled to moor in. Docking at the megadock was a reality check. We were dwarfed; by far the smallest boat on the pier.
But even the goliath power boats lining the pier looked tiny next to Rising Sun, the world’s 3rd largest private vessel. Why anyone would need a private yacht the size of a city block that employed a 45-person crew is beyond me but apparently David Geffin likes his toys.
Still, even a yacht that size, even the largest tanker, the most massive ocean liner is minuscule in the middle of the ocean. Perhaps that’s why they stay at the dock so much of the time.
But more than simply the home of “the megadock,” Charleston is a culinary epicenter, or at least that’s what every resident and visitor told me. And being in a food-loving city I felt like I needed to step up to the challenge and bake some unique cookies.
I adore rosewater and have since I first tasted baklava. I feel like it isn’t used nearly enough in cooking and I wanted to incorporate it into more of mine. The last time I was in an Indian grocery I picked up a bottle and had been waiting to use it. This was the perfect opportunity.
These shortbread-like cookies melt in your mouth. The delicate rose taste gives them an almost an angelic flavor. The meaty texture and flavor of the whole almond in the center of the cookie rounds the dessert out nicely.
Rosewater Almond Cookies
- 1 c butter
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 ½ c flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 T rose water
- Whole almonds
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (170◦ C)
- Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract
- Mix in flour and salt
- Form into walnut-sized balls
- Press gently to flatten the ball slightly
- Push almond into center
- Bake for 10 minutes or until just a touch of golden-brown appears around the sides of the cookies
- Allow to cool 20 minutes
Having a few munchies around that you don’t need to prepare is a must on any cruising boat. Keeping something in your stomach is a cardinal rule in preventing sea sickness. It’s good to have chips or pre-made snacks around “just in case” but it’s even better to know how to make some snacks yourself. Just in case you run out
Grissini are a favorite on Umineko. The crunchy little sticks of what’s basically pizza dough are easy to bake and if they soften up you can always put them in the oven to crisp a little longer. Unfortunately the demand for them is endless and I find myself baking grissini every couple of days.
- 1 ½ t of yeast
- 1 t sugar
- 2 T pizza seasoning
- 2 c flour
- 2 t salt
- ⅛ c olive oil
- ¾ c warm water
- Olive oil for brushing
- Mix yeast to in warm water and sugar for 10 minutes – enough time to activate
- Mix flour, salt, and pizza seasoning
- Add yeast mixture and oil
- Mix with spoon then kneed with hands
- Allow to proof ½ hour
- Preheat oven to 375◦ F
grissini dough with my trusty wine bottle rolling pin
- Using rolling pin or a wine bottle Roll dough out into rectangular-shaped sheet about ⅛” thick
- Cut into strips ¼” wide and 6-8” long
- Roll strips into cylinders or twist into spirals
- Arrange on baking sheet
- Brush with olive oil
- Bake 20-25 minutes
- Allow to cool
Umineko was made for sailing in tropical climates. I am perfectly okay with that, that’s where I want to sail too. I’m okay with that as long as we’re actually sailing in the tropics. When summer turns to autumn, leaves are panted brilliant rainbow and the temperatures start to dip and you are on a boat with no heating system. Then it’s a problem.
What’s a girl to do on a boat without heating? That’s easy… bake!
So many sailors value their pressure cookers because they don’t waste heat (or propane). I have flipped this around and use my oven to help keep me warm as well. When we get to warmer climates the pressure cooker will come out to play but until then I am relying on the oven to keep warm.
We ran out of butter. I know, I know, I should have provisioned better (especially doing coastal sailing) but such is life on the water. I really wanted something sweet for tea time and clearly cookies were out of the question. What sweet treat could I make that didn’t require butter?
I didn’t want to make a tea cake and Sato San had bought biscotti several times. So I decided to dust off one of my old recipes and tailor it to what we had on the boat.
I am overjoyed I did. Biscotti are simple to make and fabulous cruising food. You may not be able to get butter everywhere, or want to use your precious stores, but eggs are universal. (I haven’t tried with egg replacer just yet). Better still they are filling, and packed with protein and vitamins. Depending what nuts and dried fruits you put in them, of course.
Biscotti are a new favorite of mine to bake, and of everyone on Umineko. The one problem with making rather than buying biscotti is that they never seem to last more than a few hours.
Bosun’s Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
- ¾ c walnuts chopped
- ½ t salt
- ½ c dried cranberries
- ½ t baking soda
- 1 ½ c flour
- 2 eggs
- ½ c sugar
- 1 t cinnamon
- 2 t vanilla
- Butter pan & line with wax paper (you can use 2 loaf pans or form into loaf-like shape on baking sheet which is what I did. The batter is thick enough it will stay)
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (170◦ C or medium)
- Press dough into pan or form into rectangular, loaf-like shape
- Bake 35 minutes
- Cool 5 minutes
- Cut 1/8 in slices
- Lay flat on cookie sheet
- Bake additional 15 minutes until outside slightly crispy
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