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During the first week of living on s/v Rachel J Slocum, I was determined to cook our meals. I had spent the past 6 months documenting and preparing for this moment, and once we had most of our foodie gear stowed on the boat, I was itching to get cooking.
Andrew was cautious because he didn’t want me to over-extend myself. We both had spent long days cleaning, moving and unpacking that to him it didn’t seem realistic for me to also undertake cooking at the end of the day. So, we would go out to our favorite gastropub Tarpon River Brewery, which while delicious didn’t give me the joyous comfort of a home-cooked meal.
The other intangible quality of creating a home is having the smell of cooking wafting through the rooms. Thus far, we had cold cereal, toasted english muffins, and brewed coffee and tea in the mornings. These hardly evoked the intangible quality I wanted.
At the same time, our shore-powered refrigeration was on the mend. The repair had been made and the unit installed, however no dice. We prioritized getting our stuff moved in which meant putting this off and therefore going out to eat.
In the meantime, Bill had kindly supplied a portable 21 quart (20 liter) refrigerator so that we can stow a few perishable items. While I had planned for provisioning for passagemaking for weeks at a time, I had to exercise a different menu plan to have just-in-time provisions for each meal.
Besides space limits, the other variable I considered was clean-up and not wanting to create a pile of dishes or do a complicated meal given the rest of the boat was in disarray. I opted for a one-pot meal of Chinese sticky rice, however with a major substitution: jasmine rice for sweet glutinous rice.
The variable that I did not consider was the stormy conditions. As you’ll see from the directions below, pan-searing the onions and garlic as well as beef generated plumes of smoke in the cabin.
We had been experiencing torrential rain, and so we couldn’t open up the hatches and portlights to airout the smoke. I was so focused on the cooking activity that I didn’t pay attention to what I had created until I heard Andrew exasperated at the dilemma - leaky hatches due to the storm, open boxes with half-emptied contents everywhere, and a thick palpable smoke to boot.
While the boat was rolling in the berth, he questioned my decision, and I quipped… Surely, lots of people cooked under these conditions at sea. He shook his head, No… they would choose to heat up a simpler meal like open up a can of stew.
So, I may have missed that variable to consider. Still, I forged on and assembled the ingredients into my one pot and set it to steam for 20 minutes. Andrew continued to clean and put away spares and electronics. He set up the salon table with a monitor so we could watch a movie later, pulled out linens for our table setting, and opened up a bottle of wine.
By the time, the meal had come together, I had scraped the pan and cleaned the cooking utensils as well as cleared my work space to minimize clean-up after dinner.
Chinese Jasmine Rice
So without further ado, here is the recipe for the inaugural dinner we had aboard s/v Rachel J Slocum. The best thing about this meal (besides that it came with a story) is that it helped transform the boat into our home. No longer does it smell like a vacation rental occupied by strangers.
It’s our home.
- 8 Chinese dried shiitake mushrooms
soak in warm water for 30 minutes until softened. Then chop off stems and slice mushrooms (1/4”). Set aside.
Into a heated pan, add
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, mince
Stir-fry until softened and brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once done, remove and set aside. In the same pan, add
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
Sear for color and carmelization but do not cook through. The rest of the cooking will be done in the steamer. While it is still pink, turn off the heat and then focus on assembly.
In a rice cooker (we use a Cuchen), measure
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- sufficient water to cover with 1 knuckle above the rice
Layer onions & garlic, beef and mushrooms on top. Then drizzle,
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Steam as per directed for 2 cups of plain white rice. Using our pressure cooking setting, this would be for 15 minutes. After steam is discharged, mix well and let the dish come together. Serve with a drizzle of sesame oil and furikake.
We stored our leftovers in a square silicone container. Given our space limitations on the boat and benefits of reusability to reduce single-use plastics, we invested in pop-up silicone containers and bags. Here are the ones we chose:
- Silicone Food Storage Containers
- Reusable Gallon Freezer Bags
- Reusable Sandwich and Storage Bags
- Baking Cup Liners
- Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
Note, these links are provided for your reference; there is no Amazon affiliate marketing.
There was enough to provide a meal for a second dinner which could be heated up in the same pressure cooker, on steam for 15 minutes. Take care not to reheat it too often.
In other news, the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show is running from Oct 28 to Nov 1. The show is held over a variety of locations. We see the merits of attending to get a jump start on your sailing dreams, just as we did when we attended BOOT 2020, saw a lot of different types of boats and were able to narrow down our choices with minimal investment in time and money.
If you happen to be in the area, send us a DM and we can meet up with you in a socially-distanced appropriate way while you’re in town.
Thanks for reading!
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