Saturday, November 17, 2012

Food for Thought

Blogs and food.  Seems to be a marriage made in cyberspace heaven.   I often wonder how many blogs have at least one entry sharing recipes.  Ninety percent, perhaps?  Sure, there are dedicated recipe blogs.  And then there are cross over blogs, with topics like “recipes for parents,” “recipes from my travels,” “recipes for busy people,” and “recipes for graduate students (100 ways to serve ramen)”.  But even blogs where the theme and thesis are not food related have recipes on them.  Over the last year, I’ve seen recipe posts on at least four of my favorite sailing blogs on ThreeSheetsNW.  I even found a blog dedicated to cooking while cruising.   Since the weather right now generally precludes sailing, and my general post-partum boatbuilding malaise is persisting, maybe it is time I take the plunge into the overcrowded world of food blogging.

The theme of this blog is building and sailing my CLC PocketShip, Solitude III.   On the surface, that has nothing to do with food.  But, having spent the last two years building this boat, including many long all-day sessions of weekends, I have come to know the role that food plays in boatbuilding.  An empty stomach reduces patience and judgement.  Most of the flaws in my boat are the direct result of working on an empty stomach.
Of course, when you are boatbuilding, you want to spend your time building the boat!  So, fast, easy to prepare meals are a plus.  And since most building seems to occur in the winter months, hot, hearty food is desirable.    And since you are putting in a long, long day, what you really want is the food to be ready the moment you come in from the shop.  What means best accomplishes these ends?   No, the word I’m looking for is not “wife.”   Boatbuilders can cook too.  I’m thinking “crockpot!”

Here are some of my favorite recipes for boat building days:

Viscous Veggilicous Chili
This is based on a recipe I found in the local newpaper.  I've seen it printed in several other online "newpapers" since.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cans black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups broth or water
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 large poblano chilies, roasted, diced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 leaves kale, sliced in ribbons
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Put the onions, jalapeños, garlic, squash, broth, beans, tomatoes, poblanos,and spice in the crock pot.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.  --OR-- If you want to do this on the stovetop, heat olive oil in a heavy, deep pot. Add onions and jalapeño; cook until softened. Add squash; cook until barely starting to soften, 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, poblanos, cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over low heat until squash is tender and flavors start to come together.
2.  When you come in from the boatshop, and are ready to eat, add the greens and lime juice; cook until greens are wilted. Adjust seasoning; stir in fresh cilantro.

Adapted from

The Ragin' Cajun's Jambalaya

The original recipe was given to me by a coworker, based on his grandmother's recipe.  I've since tweaked it to "perfect it" to my tastes.

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped=
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (a.k.a. Rotel tomatoes)
  • 1-2lb sausage in casing.  Andoulle, if possible.  I've also used chicken sausage or Louisiana Hot Links to great success.
  • 1 cup rice.  I like to use a blend of wild rices available at Costco.  You definitely don't want to you white rice, because it'll turn into a giant mushy mess after 8 hours of cooking.
  • Salt, Pepper, Cajun seasoning

  1. Put the chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water and boil until done.  Pull it out and let it cool. Reserve about 2 cups of the water.
  2. Once the chicken is cool, take two forks and shred it.  Season with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning
  3. While the chicken is cooking and cooling, chop your veggies and sausages.  I like to slice the sausages on a bias, creating long, thin, ovoid, bite-size bits.
  4. Dump all the ingredients, including the 2 cups of water you reserved into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 8 hours while you go work on your boat! 
Lee Boatworks Beef Stew
  • 2 lbs stew beef or beef chuck, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
The amounts on the veggies are approximate.  I shoot for 2 lbs of meat and then fill the rest of the crock pot with veggies.  If I'm feeling crazy, I may also add in cauliflower, mushrooms, whatever!
  1. Put the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika into the crock pot.
  2. Drop meat into the crock pot and mix around with your hands, covering it in the flour mixture.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the thyme.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours while you work on the boat.
  5. Mix in the thyme, and eat!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Close Enough

Vitamin D is important.  Indeed, WebMD says that "[r]esearch suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis."  Vitamin D deficiencies are  a serious health issue, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, where high latitudes and gray skies conspire to limit exposure to an essential source of Vitamin D, the sun.  Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiencies include a weaker immune system, fatigue, depression, and cognitive impairment.
Let's talk about cognitive impairment for a second.  Anybody who has lived in the Pacific Northwest knows not to trust the weatherman.  And yet, in spite of all experience, all knowledge, all reason, after a solid month of rain, when the weatherman predicts a day or two of sunshine with 10-15kts of wind, a person suffering from the cognitive impairment of a Vitamin D deficiency will choose to believe it and decide to go sailing.

At the guest dock.
'Twas a cold, cold morning, just a touch above freezing.  The sky was clear and the air was still.  According to the forecast, some fog would be rolling in for about and hour and the wind would kick up to about 10kts in short order.  I motored down from the boat launch to the guest dock at the south end of the marina.  There is a little coffee shop there, Meyers Cafe, and there I ate a leisurely breakfast, waiting for the fog to roll and and roll out again.

After a lingering over a vegetarian quiche and hot mocha, I began to doubt the whole fog thing.  It was not any warmer outside yet, but the sun was definitely in the sky and there was no sign of impending water vapor doom.  The wind still had not bothered to make itself felt, and honestly, in the back of my head, I knew that despite the forecast, it wasn't going to start gusting anytime soon.  Still a sunny day out on the water in November is not something to be turned down, even if it means cruising around under power.  So I hopped into Solitude, putted over to the fuel dock to top up my 1 1/4 gallon gas can, and pointed her nose toward the saltwater, full steam ahead.

What a great decision!  The sun was out in its full glory as Solitude chugged over the glassy waters of the Sound.  Guilt over having my sails furled was assuaged by the peacefulness of it all.  Blue skies and blue waters, mixed with occasional white wisps of clouds and with the golden browns of late fall highlighting the shore.

After leaving the Snohomish River, I pointed Solitude's nose NW.  About an hour and a 1/4 gallon of gas later, I was found myself just off of the north end of Hat Island.  I had considered simply circumnavigating tiny Hat Island, but  decided that there was not reason not to keep going.  A quick look at the map assured me that I could reach the town of Langley on Whidbey Island, run ashore, grab a bite to eat, and still make it back to the boat ramp before sunset (an important consideration, seeing as how I still haven't wired my nav lights).  So, onwards!

The Langley boat basin.
Langley is a cute-as-a-button little town.  They get their fare share of tourists and have a good compliment of restaurants, coffee shops, and bed-and-breakfasts.  I pulled into the densely packed harbor and upon consulting with the harbormaster, slid into a slip in the center of the tiny boat basin.  I trotted ashore and up into "downtown" Langley, in search of the perfect meal.  I ended up at the Useless Bay Coffee Company (Useless Bay is a bay just on the other side of the island), where I purchased a perfect-for-a-chilly-day bowl of pulled pork chili.  It was delicious!

I would have liked to stay longer and explore the town some more, but it was time to get back to the boat in order to get home before sundown.  Langley will definitely be the destination of a summertime overnight cruise in the future.

South end of Camano Island
South end of Hat Island.  Hat Island is also named
Gedney Island, but nobody calls it that. 
I steamed back, this time via the south side of Hat Island.  As the shadows grew long, I pulled back into the Snohomish River and was tied up at the boat launch just as the sun hit the horizon.  As I was getting Solitude ready for the trailer, a liveaboard from a trawler over in the yacht basin walked over, wanting to know more about my little boat.  Would have liked to talked more, but I had to get Solitude buttoned up and home before it got too late. 

What a great day.  Yes, it would have been nice to sail, but you take what you can get this time of year.  And what I got was awesome!