Friday, February 26, 2010

Menu Explorations

In the midst of transmutation of the elements. Chard, olives, portobellos. Here's why. During the last fall's cruises on SILENT MAID, I learned to adjust to the diesel stove. In the first cruise, I didn't know if we would have a stove at all since it hadn't been hooked up yet, but by the end of the first day motoring and sailing in 30kt wind John Brady (in companionway photo) had the little guy operating. Hot dinner that night. I had packed simple things to eat and a backup stove from my backpacking gear just in case.

It rained and was cold for three days of that transit from Toms River to Philly. The hot food was very welcome. The stove is a Wallace and has two hot spots under a glass top, one cooler than the other. The first thing I learned to do immediately on waking, was flip the glow plug switch on and start the coffee water. It takes a good 30 minutes to get water boiling from a cold start, so no lazing under the covers for cookie in the am. Once the little guy, Wally, is hot, he keeps pumping out BTUs, so my goal was to get the crew fed in less than an hour and heat dishwater. Most of what I brought to eat last fall had been hastily gathered and semi-prepared the night before sailing. Preboiled noodles, chopped onions, peppers and potatoes nuked in their travel containers, hard boiled eggs.

It is way fun to cook for a group that likes to eat and as I got to know my shipmates, their food choices and likes became the gangplanks for the next meal. This spring while SILENT MAID has been in the shop, evenings have been spent experimenting with food for cruising. Making a passage safely from point A to B, means a comfortable crew, well fed and rested. MAID required a lot of looking after in those first trials since some systems had not been hooked up yet. Swaying up the sail and reefing provided lots of exercise for the deck crew and the helmsman expended energy on the wheel. She is a catboat. This year she'll be a catboat with autopilot and electric winches (and a glow plug that will heat) because of the new alternator bracket.

On the last cruise in November, I brought the pressure cooker from home, mostly because it has a locking lid. I had made a large pot of vegetable chili with bison. That was a convenient transport container ready for reheat. An oven would be a nice addition, and harking back to scout days, a folding or dutch oven charcoal one could be used for rolls, cake, cookies and biscuits at anchor, but not under way. One pot is the choice under way. The pressure cooker cuts cooking time drastically. Usually things take about a third to a quarter of the time needed to stew, boil or braise.

No comments: