Reading Time: 3 minutes

Lifecycle of Ingredients

If you’ve followed our Culinary Adventures, you’ll start to see a theme of no waste in this household. We love cooking and riffing off recipes. Sometimes, this will evolve over the lifecycle of ingredients to create some fun, novel adventures in cooking and help us when we live aboard RJ Slocum.

Turkey 5 ways

It all started when I was a kid and the values instilled in me by my parents when it came to economizing and thrift.

Not only were they homesteaders (before it became en vogue) growing avocado, corn, sugarcane and wheatgrass in our backyard, my parents never wasted food once it was cooked. Bulk dishes became leftovers that extended over days (or sometimes weeks) until depleted.

I’ve taken that principle and elevated it to a new art form … because, you see, I like variety.

The lifecycle of ingredients made up of leftovers became a culinary challenge that I learned at Wellesley College, my alma mater. The dining hall weekly menu would feature something like the following: 

  • Monday – roast turkey
  • Tuesday – turkey soup
  • Wednesday – turkey pot pie
  • Thursday – turkey tetrazzini  
  • Friday – turkey ice cream (just kidding)

Journey vs Destination

This was, of course, all very surprising to Andrew because he has a different approach to cooking. He once told me an anecdote of his culinary experiment to master the art of cooking fried rice.

His process would be to cook a batch of fried rice and if there was something off about it, he would throw it out. All of it. Andrew would then repeat the process over and over again. The garbage would have countless pounds of fried rice ready for the dumpster. In his quest for mastery, he valued learning the skill over the end product.

I can understand that principle… in theory.

Had we known each other back then, however, I would have quietly siphoned off each batch of fried rice into Tupperware containers and place them into the freezer to be repurposed for other dishes, such as

  • a cheesy frittata
  • roll them into balls, cover them in panko breadcrumbs and fry them up
  • place them in a rich flavorful broth with some hand-torn roast chicken 

We would have made a great team back then, as we do now.

Stage 1 Meals

I share this backstory so you get a feel for how we will be approaching our life aboard RJ Slocum.

The kinds of dishes that will be prepared at anchor will primarily be bulk cooking that can be tailored and elevated when we are on passage. Here are some of the ideas that you can take with some basic stage one meals laid out in the following hierarchy:

  • Stage 1
    • Stage 2+

 

  • Braised beef or pork
    • poutine
    • ramen
    • fried rice
  • Grilled salmon
    • salmon cakes
    • chowder
    • pasta salad
  • Steamed rice
    • fried rice
    • congee
    • risotto balls
  • Roasted chicken
    • chicken soup
    • chicken salad/sandwiches
  • Roasted vegetables
    • vegetable soup
    • strata
    • omlette
  • Bread
    • pizza
    • breakfast casserole
    • french toast

The best way to incorporate these ingredients is with eggs, milk, bacon and cheese along with varying up herbs and spices to give them another dimension. Taste the dishes as you prepare them and you’ll be able to adjust along the way so there are no surprises with your final product.

While we’re still observing social distancing and staying at home to prepare our meals, we are using this opportunity to continue to refine our skills for life aboard a sailboat.

We hope you find these ideas useful.

 

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Time to Level-Up

When it comes to preparing meals at home, the last area I tend to stock up is canned food. Canned ingredients are seldom prioritized because I prefer to cook with the freshest ingredients, farm fresh being the goal. The same comes to cooking, and I realized that I am lacking this skill in my cooking arsenal when it comes to preparing canned food recipes.

This seems like an essential skill while living on a boat. So, it’s high time to level-up.

What’s in your pantry?

In one of the recent episodes from Sailing Project Atticus , Desiree was providing a tour of the galley, including where she stored provisions and her use of combining canned goods with fresh produce to create meals. Behan from Sailing Totem also offers her strategies for cooking pantry meals as the basis for provisioning.

My pantry currently is stocked with the following:

  1. coconut milk
  2. evaporated milk
  3. lychee
  4. grass jelly
  5. pear juice
  6. San Marzano whole tomatoes
  7. Portuguese sardines
  8. Pate

That’s it in the canned food category that I replenish with any frequency. The only reason for their existence is to serve as ingredients for identified recipes making: Denise’s ultimate chocolate mochi (1 & 2), Taiwanese summer dessert (3 & 4), Momofuku braised short rib (5), marinara sauce (6), and snacks (7 & 8). 

Cooking primarily with canned food is not really in my repertoire, so I have an opportunity to hone in this skill before we move aboard RJ Slocum.

Canned Food Recipes

From a simple google query, I discovered some recipes that I would tackle over the next few weeks. These resources include:

  • BBC Good Food – Use up tinned ingredients like tomatoes, beans and tuna with these easy dinners. Or try our simple bakes for a great way to use canned fruit.
  • Bon Appetit – 10 pantry staples you should always have as well as pantry 2.0 recommendations.
  • Cheapism – 30 cheap and easy recipes from canned foods.
  • Epicurious – Cult canned food items and what to do with them. Say hello to canned cheese. Another article features many ways to use whole canned tomatoes
  • Love Canned Food – Find the perfect tinned food recipe using affordable delicious canned food products. Canned food recipes can be made quickly for the family.
  • The Modern Proper – What canned good should be in a well-stocked pantry? Which ones can you actually build a healthy, quick meal out of? Here’s the TMP list of canned food must-haves.
  • Taste of Home – Have canned goods collecting dust in the back of your pantry? Make the most of them with these yummy and straightforward canned food recipes.

Pantry Buster

Since I already have identified specific uses with most of my pantry canned items, I had another look at what else is currently stocked in the pantry. After taking inventory, I discovered we have one can of baked beans, 3 cans of sockeye salmon and 1 can of pineapple chunks.

A few of these items had expiration dates that had long since passed. When I had volunteered at a food bank, I learned not to be too bothered by this since the cans were in good shape.

If you want to evaluate your pantry, feel free to reference this guideline from FoodPrint.  

Sockeye salmon options:

Baked beans options

Pineapple chunks options

So without further ado, here are our top 5 choices from this experiment to seek out the best canned food recipes. 

#5 – Salmon Chowder

Given we continue to observe social distancing and staying safe at home, I had to do a number of substitutions on the salmon chowder since I didn’t have all of the ingredients readily available. 

  • Pantry – canned salmon
  • Fridge – mushrooms, onions, sour cream, bacon drippings 
  • Freezer – peas, homemade beef broth

You’ll be surprised how chunky and warming this dish came out. Yields 8-10 servings and it goes great with some crusty home-made sourdough bread… yet another culinary adventure!

There are many ways to substitute to make this more pantry-friendly, such as:

  • canned mushrooms
  • canned peas
  • spam
  • evaporated milk

Okay, next up….

#4 – Beef and Bean Meatloaf

Using this recipe from Food in a Minute as a jumping off point, I took into account what other items we currently have stocked in the house, substituting where applicable and supplementing based on preferences:

  • Pantry – baked beans, dried portobello mushrooms, panko bread crumbs, sugar, seasonings, BBQ sauce, zacusca and rice (side dish)
  • Fridge – celery, onions, eggs, bacon and homemade pickled carrots
  • Freezer – ground beef, garlic and peas (side dish)

Without over-handling, this came together as a fairly wet mixture and in retrospect, I would add more panko bread crumbs and eggs for binding. I pan-fried a teaspoon of the mix and adjusted the seasoning. Then, I turned the mixture into two loaf pans.

This made two loaves, which is enough for 16 servings.

Even though Andrew doesn’t mind eating the same meals over and over again, I prefer to vary things up. So the meatloaf made various incarnations: as a sandwich, quesadilla, fritter or served with rice, french fries or mashed potatoes.  

 

#3 – Caribbean Salmon Cakes

After scanning the pantry and refrigerator. I was missing some ingredients for the creole salmon cakes and had to substitute. This also makes for a completely different recipe, so here is my modified version, now renamed “Caribbean Salmon Cakes”.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 7.5 ounce cans salmon, Alaskan, wild caught
1 cup Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie)
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup spring onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons brown mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Sunny Caribbee Jerk spice seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Drain salmon and set aside. In a large bowl add minced vegetables, all the spices, mayonnaise and mustard, mix well. Fold in salmon and panko bread crumbs.

Form into 4 patties or you could make appetizer size if desired.

Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add patties in brown for about 4-5 minutes per side until nice and golden brown.

Finish in the oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Served hot with cilantro scallion rice

#2 – Spicy Pineapple Linzer Cookies

I really wanted to bake a traditional Taiwanese pineapple cake, especially since I’m Taiwanese. It’s the national symbol of Taiwan and of good fortune, as the word “pineapple” in Chinese means “prosperity arrives.” Unfortunately, I really don’t like it because it’s dense and dry.

Carrot cake was another option, except Andrew is generally not a fan. As for pineapple cocktails, I am over fruity drinks having consumed a few watermelon mojitos each day (and every day) for the past couple weeks.

Note: I will recycle and upcycle ingredients until we’ve extracted every last ounce of nutrition. There’s no waste in this household! 

So, then I came across an interesting recipe from Saveur magazine. The Spicy Pineapple Linzer Cookie is an elevated cookie served at Te Company in New York City that pays homage to the Taiwanese pineapple cake.

The recipe called for the following ingredients:

  • Pantry – pineapple, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, hazelnut flour, lime
  • Fridge – butter, eggs, yuzu kosho (spicy citrus chili and garlic spread)
  • Freezer – rosemary

For this recipe, I made a few modifications, including:

  • halved the recipe
  • switched pistachio for hazelnut
  • modified yuzu kosho paste
  • switched Meyer lemon for lime zest
  • switched pink Himalayan Salt for Maldon Sea Salt

Otherwise, the recipe is identical and delicious! Yields 3 dozen cookies and the perfect accompaniment with a cup of tea, with its buttery, zesty and spicy bite.

 

#1 – Condensed Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

The beauty of this recipe for condensed milk chocolate chip cookies is the fact that – perhaps with the exception of butter – everything is shelf-stable. It can also be argued that you can source canned butter, in which case the whole recipe is shelf stable.

Andrew has quite the sweet tooth, so I am pretty pleased that we have an option for baking while underway that doesn’t require eggs or milk. This makes about a dozen 3-4″ cookies, that are soft and chewy, with a tender crumb.

  • Pantry – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, corn starch, salt, light brown sugar, condensed milk, vanilla extract, chocolate chips
  • Fridge – butter
  • Freezer – n/a

Andrew and I work in the same office at home. Most days he is taking conference calls while I quietly type up content for the website or update the bullet journal. The day after these cookies were baked, he brought the Tupperware containing the remaining 8 or 9 of these bad boys and proceeded to eat them one by one.

At one point, I overheard him talking with his mouthful of cookies and I turned and look at him, whispering, “Are you going to eat all of them?”

Deer in headlights.

He nodded and continued his conference call. Suffice it to say, these cookies were a hit. I may add slightly more salt next time to round out the flavor profile. The crumb is certainly tender and stays moist even going into our 3rd day of keeping them at room temperature.   

All-Pantry Meals

We hope you’ll have a chance to try out these canned food recipes. We had a lot of fun experimenting with them and riffing on the ones published. 

Other cruisers have shared their strategies for cooking and provisioning canned food meals. Thanks again to them who have forged a way ahead of us to develop these survival skills while sailing the high seas. These include:

When we consider provisioning when we move aboard, we may tinker with some of the ingredients suggested by Epicurious to create all-pantry meals , much like the condensed cookie recipe. I am also inspired by Behan from Sailing Totem to experiment with canning meat for long passages because our fishing skills have not yet been tested. 

Now that’s a sea foodie challenge. 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Happy Birthday Surprises

Staying at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic makes planning a surprise for Andrew pretty darn challenging. The fact that I’m writing this story weeks in advance could tip my hand on what I have planned. If this all goes sideways, I may relegate myself to just wishing him a “happy birthday” with a double latte, as I do each morning when he first wakes up.

Andrew doesn’t ask for anything nor does he expect that I would do anything for him. He can’t stand doing anything out of a sense of obligation or reciprocity. Gifts are meant to come from the heart. And so even though he doesn’t care for birthday celebrations, he knows that I love to plan surprises. And out of his love for me, he is an enthusiastic receiver of these thoughtful gestures.

This year, I would either have to get really creative or really conniving. Otherwise, I may have to reset my own expectations to successfully pulling this off. As you can probably tell, pulling off a surprise is more for me than it is for Andrew. So, it’s time to get really conniving! 

The first surprise will come in the form of something chocolatey, for what better way to say happy birthday than with a chocolate cake?

Denise’s Ultimate Chocolate Mochi

Over the years, this dessert made quite a few appearances at family gatherings as well as office potlucks.

In our house, the pantry is always stocked with Valrohna chocolate, Mochiko rice flour, and cans of coconut milk and evaporated milk (as written up in Canned Food Recipes ). Ironically, each time when I begin to assemble the ingredients, I revisit a few different recipes because no single one of them does the trick. 

For example, one recipe from FoodGal needs to be scaled up to a full box of Mochiko rice flour, however it lacks the rise and fluffiness that I like. In another recipe from Epicurious, the result has the fluffiness, but uses 2 cans of coconut milk, and it doesn’t factor the additional liquid introduced by chocolate, etc.

To me, none of them quite nail it. Ironically each time I make this recipe, I would merge the adjustments in my head. It didn’t occur to me until now to write it down. So without further ado, I have written down the ultimate chocolate mochi recipe. 

Note: next to a few of the ingredients below, I have indicated my preference for the brands I would recommend. Not all chocolates are created equal. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 6 oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate (Valrohna 71%)
  • 1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla bean paste)
  • 3 cups sweet rice flour (1 lb box of Mochiko)
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (Valrohna)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Confectioner’s sugar for serving
  • See Chef’s notes for other additions

Directions

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking pan (pyrex) with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Add coconut milk and evaporated milk to cool down the mixture before adding eggs. Add eggs and vanilla; stir to combine.

In a separate large bowl, sift rice flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. Create a cavity in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Stir until smooth and then pour into the prepared baking pan. 

If there is too much batter, pour remaining into cupcake pan.

Bake until the mochi top is shiny and cake passes toothpick test, roughly 1 1/2 hours. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Cut the mochi into 24 squares before serving. 

Bake mochi cupcakes in 15 to 20 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

Chef’s Notes

The chocolate mochi keeps covered at room temperature for 3 days. Refrigeration will dry it out. If you want to store it for longer, place in freezer. When ready to eat, thaw at room temperature.  

If you want to level-up the tasty goodness of the chocolate mochi, feel free to add the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup rum or bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans

…And certainly feel free to add them all! With the extra liquid introduced, you may need to bake 5 minutes longer. For kid-friendly version, you may want to hold back on the espresso. Its affect won’t burn off like the rum or bourbon. 

Speaking of bourbon…

 

The Andrew

As we first wrote about in the Project Slocum series , here is the story of how Andrew has a cocktail named after him.

We have spent quite a few evenings at our favorite gastropub Side Door in Corona del Mar. We love this place for a few reasons, such as:

  • it has a farm-to-table mission
  • they do not course out their dishes
  • the quality of the dishes has stayed consistently great
  • seasonal menu showcasing the freshest ingredients

It also happened to be where we were married, so we often celebrate birthdays and anniversaries here.

Within a couple weeks of our first meeting, Andrew took me to Side Door, where I was introduced to a variety of cocktails. He favored drinks profiling whiskey or bourbon, including the Whiskey River. In the pursuit of variations on a theme of this particularly tasty cocktail, Andrew asked the bartender to riff on the Whiskey River. She concocted a new drink and served it to him. When he first tasted it, his face lit up and broke into a huge smile. I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but I enjoyed it as well.

And thus was borne, “the Andrew,” named after the cocktail inspired by SerenadeWind’s captain.

When dining in establishments is permitted once again, I highly encourage that you find your way to Side Door and order “the Andrew.” Until then, please enjoy this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon (High West Double Rye)
  • 0.75 oz Foro Amaro
  • 0.5 oz Calisaya liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Nocino Cherry Liqueur
  • Single Ice Cube
  • Orange Twist

Early retirement = happy birthday

Earlier this year as we were planning the phases of this transition, we agreed that I would quit my job first. Because I was pinballing quite a bit about this transition, Andrew did not commit to a timeline. He wanted to be 100% focused on helping me. 

I joked to him that it would be awesome if he quit before his next birthday for the following reasons:

  • This way we have more time together
  • We can go full throttle at moving out of our house and onto a sailboat
  • It would also be so cool to say that he retired at the age of 40  

To the last point, Andrew retorted that he was never cool.

The reality is far different today than it was earlier this year, when I first pulled the trigger. Coronavirus has already taken – and will continue to take – its own toll in all sectors of the economy. Furloughs and layoffs are the reality. So, we are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Speaking of…

Wait and see

Over a month ago, I ordered a gift for Andrew from overseas. I was informed that shipping tends to be 5-14 days. It has been forever and I have no idea if this package will arrive in time. Of course, there are delays now due to coronavirus.

And so the waiting continues…

Updated May 28, 2020

Today, we received the package in the mail which was sent from Australia. We’ll describe a little more about this in our yacht club blog post, but for now here’s a preview of the gift:

We are officially yachties! 

Parting thoughts

In our relationship, we celebrate each other in little ways and often with tasty food. Andrew has commented a few times that he had no idea when we became a couple what a fatty he married. Apparently, my metabolism had him fooled. I suppose it makes perfect sense considering I was named after Dionysus .

This week to celebrate opening escrow on RJ Slocum, we ordered curbside pickup from our favorite gastropub Side Door . While it isn’t the same as when we dine in on their cozy couches, by the fireplace or outside in their patio, we had a nice picnic overlooking the ocean in Corona del Mar.

Happy birthday, baby!

 

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Pandemic Life

We are all doing our part to stay home and save lives. In other words… Cook now explore later. Many of you are cooking every single night, and my hat’s off to you. I prefer to cook a feast, and enjoy leftovers throughout the week. 

Below are some of the tried and true recipes that we feature in our home throughout the year and especially now during the coronavirus pandemic. While we’re staying at home, we are busy taking these recipes and boat-proofing them, so that we can glide into our new adventure well-fed and happy.

Parmesan-stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon

We made a brief mention in our blog post Go/No-Go, and these certainly deserve an in-depth mention.  

Three simple ingredients make up these little flavor bombs. This delicious smoky sweet appetizer is a product of the Suzanne Goin, chef de cuisine of A.O.C. in Los Angeles. I’ve made them countless of times for parties. Each of the ingredients store well, so you can make a batch now, later or anytime in between.

These same ingredients can also be tossed into a scone to deliver a sweet-savory breakfast or filling treat throughout the day. I think they would be perfect while on passage. This recipe is courtesy of Gjelina chef Travis Lett and pastry chef Meave Mcauliffe. 

Momofuku Braised Beef Short Ribs

The flavors from this Momofuku recipe by David Chang remind me of home cooking. Much like other recipes featured here, this one is fool-proof and delicious. If cuts of short rib are not available at the market, I will opt for cuts from the shoulder, leg or rump – anything with lots of connective tissue chuck, shank, brisket and oxtail. 

One of the few modifications I will make to this is to go easy on the soy sauce. I’ll control the seasoning afterward, but once you commit to this much soy sauce, you can’t really go back.

Substitutions can also be made for the type of acid you use. Pear juice can be swapped out for apple, pineapple and orange with no discernible compromise to taste.

I’m also a bit lazy when it comes to heating up the braising liquid. After I place the browned meat in the slow cooker, I pour all the other ingredients in, give it a quick stir to incorporate and then walk away. 

Note that the aroma in the house will drive you bananas. Make sure there’s adequate ventilation or possibly try to do this one overnight. Because if you’re sitting in the saloon of your boat with these smells wafting over you, you may quite literally eat everything out of your fridge and pantry.

 

The Soup Nazi’s Indian Mulligatawny Soup

					ELAINE
			Do you need anything? 

					KRAMER
			Oh, a hot bowl of Mulligatawny would 
		        hit the spot.  

					ELAINE
			Mulligatawny? 

                                        KRAMER 
                        Yeah, it's an Indian soup. Simmered
                        to perfection by one of the great 
                        soup artisans in the modern era.

                                        ELAINE
                        Oh. Who, the Soup Nazi?

                                        KRAMER
                        He's not a Nazi. He just happens to
                        be a little eccentric. You know,
                        most geniuses are.

 

Todd Wilbur of Top Secret Recipes published this recipe many years ago. My first attempt was in 2008 when I was nostalgic for a Mulligatawny soup featured at the commissary of Universal Studios. With whatever I had in hand, I threw this together one rainy afternoon. Paired with a side of crusty bread, this will hit the spot in the days to come as we binge watch Seinfeld episodes. 

Craig Ponsford’s Ciabatta

These days of retirement allow me to once again explore the world of baking artisan breads. Mix four ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt), vary three dimensions (temperature, time and technique) and you can develop so many different types of crumb.

One of my favorites is the baker’s percentage formula offered up from Craig Ponsford, a renowned baker in Sonoma, California. It takes a lot of time and is a very wet dough, but the results are worth it. 

A few years ago, when Andrew baked cozonac for me, we got a hold of some fresh yeast. He portioned it out and placed it in the freezer. I pulled out a 100 g portion and made a poolish. Most of the poolish I refroze and the first portion I used as a starter for two loaves of no-knead bread, baked in a Dutch oven. And for Easter this year, I surprised Andrew by baking 3 loaves of cozonac for him, but putting my own twist on the recipe by adding dark chocolate chips and omitting raisins. 

Once we get through all the yeast, we will be embarking on a sourdough adventure with our own homegrown starter thanks to the inspirational sourdough bread Youtube video from Patrick Ryan. 

French Onion Soup

Certain sections of the grocery stores were sold out of items: flour, pasta, potatoes and onions. When I grabbed a bag of Mayan sweet onions, I should have taken a closer look. They had softened within a couple days, and I had to quickly use up a lot of onions in a short period of time. I turned to a tried and true recipe for French Onion Soup from The Joy of Cooking. Luckily, I also had a few quarts of homemade chicken broth in the freezer so this recipe came together pretty easily. 

These days, I am inventorying items that we will be taking aboard s/v Rachel J. Slocum. The versatility and comprehensiveness of The Joy of Cooking will make it a definite choice. Some celebrity chef cookbooks will probably not stand the test of time.

What will survive will be the recipes I have collected and cooked over many years. Those will need to be digitized so I would still have them as a reference. 

Breakfast Casserole

When I worked at Warner Bros, my department was big on potlucks. Each birthday was generally celebrated with bringing in food to share in honor of our work colleague.

Most of the time we celebrated with a breakfast potluck. Muffins and donuts were often featured. Since I prefer savory foods, I would usually come up with a salty option. I would alternate between this breakfast sausage casserole recipe or a spinach and cheese strata, depending on the ingredients I would have on hand. 

This background in cooking in large quantities helped a lot when it came to cooking aboard sailing vacations, when we would each take shifts in cooking for 10-12 people and you want the food to come out at the same time. 

Shepherd’s Pie

In Good Eats, host Alton Brown would describe the science of cooking, which I found useful.

What happens when you introduce heat to a protein?

How do glutens form?

What is Maillard reaction?

For me, understanding these aspects helps me become a better cook. I find these cooking shows offer recipes that deliver the goods compared to other celebrity chefs whose shows are beautifully photographed, but whose recipes taste like crap. 

Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. We try to keep to ground lamb for authenticity and taste, but if you find lamb to be too gamey, try 50/50 with lamb and beef. 

Boat Life

These recipes translate well to boat living, for the following reasons:

  • Provisioning

When you consider provisioning for a boat, think in terms of ingredients that serve as the basis for several recipes. Mirepoix is a great example of this. Carrots, celery and onion with chicken broth make a delicious soup on its own. In its individual components, the onion is the basis for french onion soup. In aggregate, the mirepoix in chunkier form can be used with the Momofuku recipe or in smaller diced form can be used with the Shepherd’s Pie.

  • Storage

These dishes profiled here also store well, not only the finished product but also the ingredients. Carrots, celery or celery root, and onions keep for weeks without refrigeration. Same with figs, flour and many pantry items. Once cooked, the items portion and reheat well for serving.

  • Family-style

When I was cooking aboard a Leopard 384 in the BVI, these recipes allowed me to serve a hot meal to large crew in a pinch. Traditionally, I have made the braised short ribs and both soups in a slowcooker. Both can be started on a stove top and finished in an oven. 

We are also experimenting in pressure cooker-friendly recipes so we can retire the slow cooker, and opt for an energy and time efficient method. We wrote about the Country-Style Pork Ribs prepared in a pressure cooker. Turned out, they weren’t as tender as the low and slow method. They are a decent option when you look at the big picture and weigh all variables. 

When we experiment with the beef short ribs, they were fantastic! The preferred method will be to use the pressure cooker from now on. I would even say they turned out significantly better than the slow cooker option, which yielded cuts that ironically had toughed up. We are throwing that batch into ramen to compensate for dryness. The pressure cooker version was tender and melty.

Parting Thoughts

As we continue to be in our “cook now explore later” mode, we’ve been watching a fair amount of sailing videos, most recently Sailing Project Atticus.

In this episode, Desiree was providing a tour of the galley, including where she stored provisions and her use of combining canned goods with fresh produce to create meals. It then occurred to me that I cook almost entirely with fresh food. Over the next few weeks, I have an opportunity to hone in the skill of cooking with canned food.

In the next culinary adventure post, we will profile our favorite recipes that primarily rely on canned goods. Stay tuned!

 

Reading Time: 8 minutes

A Week in the Life

Tumultuous would be le mot juste to describe the week which followed our trip to Ft. Lauderdale. As the week progressed, we would have to face a go/no-go decision with regards to purchasing s/v Rachel J. Slocum.

While we were enroute to Los Angeles, Bill had drafted a term sheet which summarized our discussions on Saturday. This agreement was waiting for our consideration when we got home. (I’m sure Bill was waiting, too.)

Quite frankly, I was tired of thinking about the boat or anything related to boats for that matter. I needed a mental break to let the emotions of the trip wash over me and then dissipate. What I did not need was to cycle everything back up and get back on the boat-buying treadmill.

So, we zipped off a quick acknowledgement email and bought ourselves some time.

 

Monday

Andrew and I decompressed in different ways on our flight back to LA. While he watched “Motherless Brooklyn,” I took a nap. During that restless sleep, my mind was at work on structuring a deal that could work for us. It was one that would differ from a traditional, straight-up boat purchase.

A traditional contract would consist of a security deposit and a final payment for an asset (i.e., the boat), I proposed an idea that adapts from common business practices and introduces an earn-out provision, which is contingent on milestones and incorporates a services agreement. The services would be agreed-upon in advance, but would assign dollar values to the transfer of Bill’s knowledge and experience sailing s/v Rachel J. Slocum to us as the new owners. 

So that morning, I went to work drafting the agreement and talking through it with Andrew. At the same time, we also evaluated the economics of the term sheet. While it captured the discussion accurately, the terms were fairly one-sided and shifted a great deal of financial risk onto us. This was consistent with a traditional contract, so we were not surprised. Luckily, we had the other agreement in the works as a counter proposal. 

Go/No-go Decision

In addition, more information was pouring in about coronavirus. On one hand, Trump began to discuss about wanting to cease the lockdown measures because he believed them to be an over-reaction to a scenario that was no worse than annual fatalities arising from garden-variety, seasonal flu or automobile accidents.

In contrast, we were also reading about how current live-aboard cruisers were impacted. Many of the stories came from those sailing in Europe, in the Caribbean, and French Polynesia – the top 3 destinations we had in mind. Those especially in hurricane zones were in a tough spot. Therefore, it was not a scenario that we wanted to jump into immediately.

For these reasons, Andrew and I agreed to put everything on hold. If anyone has a crystal ball, use it for a greater purpose than this. While this has a material impact on our lives, we acknowledge this is a first-world problem.

 

Tuesday

The first test of our resolve to put everything on hold came mid-morning, when Bill replied with a comprehensive and thoughtful response to our counter-proposal.

We went through each of the pages and the gist of it was this; he agreed in principle to the broad strokes and wanted to iron out some details that caused some logistical issues. Bill also insisted on an immediate answer because he had already arranged some work to be done this week (haul out and in the water survey). He did not however want to proceed until a deposit was wired.

Bill also referenced the same bit about Trump’s stance. So while it is political suicide, it shows promise on opening up the lockdown and its impact on restricting movement. To us, that was one dimension of the pandemic’s impact. We had many more issues to contend with to our transition: the actual health consequences as well as market disruptions being the chief amongst them. 

I hardly think people are going to be snapping up used clothing and furniture that I put up for sale at this time.

Hand sanitizer? Most definitely.

Brown suede couch fashioned after Coco Chanel’s sofa in her atelier in Paris? Hmm… not likely.

 

Wednesday

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he did not believe the state would be able to reopen by Easter. The next 6-8 weeks would determine what is realistic. At the time of this writing, 50% of the state’s positive tests were people between the ages of 18 and 49. All the more reason to exercise caution especially when interacting with higher risk cohorts. Newson further suggested dramatic social distancing measures could continue until mid-June. 

Go/No-go Decision

Bill wrote back indicating that Miami was now ordered to shelter-in-place as well. It was just a matter of time. Both sides were now in agreement about placing Project Slocum on hold. 

Stuck = Alone Together

As more people comply with shelter-at-home measures, it struck me that everyone would have an opportunity to take advantage of this time to reinvest in their relationships. 

  • Amongst significant others
  • Parents and children
  • Amongst children

Just as suggested in Project Slocum Part 3 , the voyager’s life provides ample opportunity to strengthen and define the most important relationships in your life. We all now have the gift of time. No more commutes for us all!

In our first two posts (Whiteboard and Sailing Around the World), we revealed how important time was to Andrew and I. Time is the only asset that cannot be replenished. It is not limitless. And in these uncertain days, we all have an opportunity to grow closer together and deepen relationships with those you care about, family and friends. 

MacGuyver would be proud

We also have an opportunity to learn to become more self-sufficient. It could mean doing more cooking rather than relying on take-out. This could also mean improvising a solution to fix something. We wrote a little bit about this during our early Bujo days in Upcycle R Us.

Here’s another case in point. At the moment, we are concerned with Oreo’s health, and we would like to track his weight. However, the bathroom scale was broken.

Did we go to a store and buy a replacement? No.

Did we order one from Amazon.com? No.

Andrew saw this as an opportunity to open up the machine and do a little tinkering and investigating. Turns out, a contact point had corroded due to an old battery, and the plate needed replacing. He went on a scavenger hunt in the garage and our home office to find a similar gauge metal plate. After cutting it down to the appropriate size, he then soldered a wire to the new contact plate. In the time it took me to whip up a dinner of Bacon-wrapped Dates courtesy of recipe by Suzanne Goin of A.OC. in Los Angeles, he fixed the bathroom scale.

Self-sufficiency… it’s a beautiful thing. Give it a try!

 

Thursday

While we do touch on coronavirus and its impact on us here on serenadewind.com, it seems appropriate to offer some counter-programming (so to speak) to the 24/7 coverage that exists on the pandemic. The naval-gazing posts generated in February serve that purpose. We all need some distractions to keep sane.

The social isolation created as a result of shelter-in-place measures can take its toll. In my case, I actually have a tracker in my Bujo on the amount of social interactions I participate in. As we wrote before, Andrew and I skew on the introversion end of the spectrum. We are selectively social, so we do not have a high volume need for interaction. On the other hand, we are also not complete shut-ins.

As Andrew was fielding back-to-back work conference calls, I was getting a little antsy and started reaching out to some friends to check how they were doing. My climbing buddies and I commiserated about not being able to work on our projects. We did each find some creative ways to stay active. When I reached out to my work colleagues, many were overwhelmed at the office closing the financial books on the quarter. Time and again, they did thank me for spearheading the work-from-home initiative a couple years ago. Without having implemented it department-wide, they would be royally screwed right now.

Unexpected Gifts

I happened to recount the Ft. Lauderdale dock debacle to a good friend, and she said she had a Nikon D600 camera on the market. She would give me a great deal on it and also throw in a Nikon D90 as well. This is awesome for a few reasons:

  1. From a sailor’s perspective, this is pretty cool because you always want to have spares on the boat.
  2. Because we are motivated to look for self-sustainable options, we love the fact that we can recycle an item she no longer needs.
  3. The Nikon D90 is one generation older than the D7000, so it’s a camera that’s familiar to me. The newer D600 gives me an opportunity to learn and lean into one of my core values, curiosity.

So when I heard her generous offer, I felt as though fate was gently supporting us on this journey. Whatever our needs, the universe would acknowledge them and offer us gifts.

 

Friday

After a week, we finally ate through 5 pounds of braised beef. I had followed the time-tested recipe from David Chang’s mom and published in GQ.  Not sure I can count how many times I have made this dish, but suffice it to say, it’s delicious. It reminds me of my childhood. Unfortunately I couldn’t find cuts of beef short ribs at the store, and so I opted for beef shoulder. As you can imagine, it stretched for many meals.

One can easily grow tired of the same dish, so I had done variations on a theme by using the same ingredient. From a poutine to ramen to stew to fried rice – this single ingredient of braised beef is incredibly versatile as it can form a base for many dishes.

Today, we experimented with cooking country-style pork ribs in two ways.

  • Option 1: “low and slow” in a slowcooker for 8 hours
  • Option 2: pressure cooker for 45 minutes

Before the sun set on the day, we finished them off on the grill for some smokiness and char. Both Andrew and I collaborated on this venture, so we were pretty excited to see how the results turn out.

Any guesses who won?

 

Invest in Quality

When Andrew and I moved in together, I began to realize that he made some thoughtful choices when he selected certain household products.

By way of comparison, I usually buy items if they are on sale or if it is mentioned in a magazine. His purchase of a vacuum, hairdryer, clothes washer & dryer, rice cooker as well as pots & pans demonstrated how well-made products can transform your daily living. These products were of the highest caliber, some not well-known, but ultimately evaluated for the purpose intended. 

In today’s cooking experiment, we are using a pressure cooker made by Cuchen. We use it almost exclusively to cook rice on its quick setting (15 minutes). Naturally, there are recipes included with it, and while we had flirted with the idea of trying them out, we never had the time. Perhaps we never made the time for it. 

Delicious Efficiency

Now when we translate this into boat living, the practicality is that we’ll be running the Lugger engine for an hour each day. During that time, the Lugger will be:

  1. powering up the water-maker to top off our water supply
  2. restoring the freezer/refrigerator to its optimal temperature
  3. topping off batteries to the max capacity
  4. cooking a delicious meal (45-minute braised ribs)

That is pretty damn efficient!

The country-style pork ribs will feed us well into early next week, and I’m sure I will come up with many variations on a pork rib theme to entertain our palettes.