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When we moved aboard s/v Rachel J Slocum, the previous owners had left behind 10 cans of tuna from South Africa along with 2 cans of peas, honey, coconut oil, olive oil, marinara sauce, Snickers bars and some other items.
Virtually all had expiration dates in 2019 or years prior. If the cans were undamaged and the ingredients appealing, I kept them. After having volunteered at the LA Food Bank processing donations of canned, jarred, and boxed food, I had a rough guideline in my head about what food is still edible beyond expiration dates. This information is especially useful so we don’t let too much go to waste in the future.
Inspired by having tuna on hand and a few fresh ingredients, I decided to do a variation of the Impossible Pie recipes attempted over the summer. Rather than repeat the disasterous smoke-filled cabin episode of the Inaugural Dinner, baking our dinner seemed like a good option. Plus, it gave me a chance to test out the oven.
Foiled by Oven
I had assembled my ingredients and then decided to preheat the oven. This is a bit backwards to the instructions given below because I don’t like having the pressure of cooking knowing propane is being burned up at the same time. I would much rather cook at my own pace and then wait for the oven. However, if you have natural gas piped into your home, do what you want and preheat the oven for hours.
Preheating a Force 10 oven wasn’t as straight-forward as I would have liked. I turned on the knob and I heard the slight hiss of the gas, but there was no pilot light, there was no click, and there was no flame.
I searched online and found the instructions which was easier than to locate amongst the disorganized pile of manuals stowed aboard.
Press knob and hold for 20 seconds while turning to the desired temperature.
I executed those steps and nothing happened. I did it a few more times and was about to give up when I asked Andrew for help.
Watch Your Step
Andrew was on the topside trying to relax with a beer after a long and painful day. He took a misstep in the cockpit and fell into the lazarette scraping his back and possibly breaking a rib. At the time, I was down below cleaning the galley meticulously and heard a thump and a howl. Andrew scrambled out of the lazarette and hobbled down the companionway while I repeatedly ask helpless questions about what happened and what I could do for him.
He lifted his shirt and on the right side of his back was an angry, crescent-shaped rash, flushing in a deeper shade of crimson by the moment. I lifted the shirt a little higher, and there were two more scrapes.
After a few minutes, Andrew finally responded to my questions admitting that he had slipped. Then, he proceeded to walk out of the saloon and get back to work.
Hours later as we took a hydration break in the cockpit, Rich popped up and asked how Andrew was doing. He recommended Tiger Balm … best thing there is for this and came over and offered it to us. Rich said the worst thing about stepping into a lazarette is the embarassment. That the first thing he would do whenever it happened is to see if anyone saw him. And even after 40 years of this life, it would still happen to him.
We applied the Tiger Balm before and after dinner.
Before Andrew came down to help me with the oven, I had used the lighter and wanded the flame over every internal fixture in the oven to no avail. I had hoped to stumble upon where the gas was emitting, and at the same time, I was a little concerned about melting something I ought not to and blowing up the boat.
It seemed prudent to ask for help.
I talked Andrew through the steps to start the oven as per the directions, and when he wanded the flame, the oven fired up to life.
We’re in business now.
So without further ado, here is the recipe which had Andrew having seconds and thirds that evening.
Impossible Tuna Tartlets
This is a pantry-friendly meal as only two ingredients came from the refrigerator. It could be 100% pantry if we had powdered milk and canned cheese, but we didn’t.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (easier said than done). In a bowl of warm water, soak
- 12 dried porcini mushrooms
until softened, about 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, measure out
- 2/3 cup of Bisquick
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
Whisk to combine and remove any lumps. Then add
- 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s season salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Caribee Jerk Season
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Stir and mix well then set aside.
Butter or line a muffin tin (e.g., baking cup liners are reusable and reduces waste on board). Then, take
- 1 can (12 oz) tuna (in water)
and drain excess water from can into Bisquick-egg-milk mixture. Stir well. Then, portion about a tablespoon of tuna into each cup. When mushrooms are softened, queeze out excess water and place individually into each cup. The final layer to add is
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Portion about 1 tablespoon into each cup. Then pour mixture into each muffin tin and bake for 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.
Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. I would prefer to reheat this in a toaster oven, but I don’t have one. I opted to steam them to retain moisture at the expense of texture.
One thing to point out about the the layout of this boat is the gimbaled stove/oven is athwartship, which means when the cook needs to take something out of the oven, there is less surprise or spillage when removing hot items. This is unual compared to virtually all boats which have their stoves in line with the hull. If the boat is heeled over, contents might spill to the leeside if you’re not careful.
To minimize the extent of the pitch so it doesn’t collide with the teak frame, Bill had affixed two lines to each side. One had been severed due to chafing over the years. I studied the knot (a clove hitch with a simple overhand stopper) and decided to replace both lines.
My next challenge was not knowing where the spare lines were kept. I went as far as the sea nav station which happened to have a length of rope with the same diameter. A few snips and knots later, I had new and improved stoppers for the oven.
I love quick boat jobs!
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