Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Into the Tropics

The Captain says we're nearly one quarter of our way to our destination. But … our destination has changed - we're no longer heading towards The Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia and we are aiming for Honolulu in the Hawaiian chain. The days are warmer - partly because we are now in the Tropics and partly because the water temperature (8-9C in Patagonia) is now up to 21C.
Some time ago we saw our last Mollymawk albatross - but now we're being followed by a number of tropic birds … the red-billed tropicbird is characterized by a shrill voice and a long tail feather. We first met these birds on our first Hawaiian trip (on this boat) in 2001. They like to roost somewhere at night and one roosted on the top of our mast, so - although we appreciate their beauty - we have mixed feelings about having them so near. Our mechanical Windex was damaged during our first trip … we're hoping to avoid that outcome this time. Larry managed to get this carefully taken photo of a pair of the Tropicbirds this morning. What could be more beautiful than their white feathers against a crisp blue sky?
Time is passing pleasantly … people often ask 'retired' folks how they spend 'all that TIME!' My time is passing very pleasantly - thanks to my renewed interest in Crocheting (brought about by friend Sue Bucher of SV Valkyrie in Valdivia). I'm also most interested in assimilating all the data collected on over 50 scuba dives that we've made in Patagonia. So I spend part of every day learning how to use an Excel program in a more targeted and efficient way to analyse the data.
I'm on watch for 12 out of every 24 hours so sleeping and resting are of prime importance.
I also really like cooking on the boat (or - more probably- eating!) and finding really tasty, nutritious and 'fun' meals with the limits which availability puts on offshore cookery occupies some of my time.
We're now in the tropics (February 13 2018) so we're trying to eat more 'lightly', but here's a log I kept of 7 days of the meals I cooked while we were in Patagonia in September 2017. Before I list the recipes, I'll tell you a little about my pressure cooker and cookbooks:
I spend a lot of time looking at my cookbooks (there's no internet in the wilds of Patagonia so I couldn't search for recipes online). A cookbook I bought after we reached BC from the NWP has been terrific. It's called 'The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book - 500 easy recipes' by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Since it's published in New York, I like to imagine them as top chefs somewhere in that city. And if anyone reading this knows how to contact them, please pass on my earnest gratitude.
I also use the a few recipes from the Joy of Cooking. I have a cookbook called 'Six Ingredients or Less' and it's written by Carlean Johnson (CJ Books, Washington State ISBN 0-942878-05-01) I also use some good books I bought in England - the Weight Watchers Mini-Series book entitled 'Simply Spicy' and 'Meat-Free Meals'. For fish, I use 'Alaskan Halibut Recipes' and 'Alaskan Salmon Recipes' by Cecilia Nibeck (AK Enterprises, Alaska) or a book (printed in China) entitled 'The Essential Seafood Cookbook' (Whitecap).
My London sailing friend Mandy Chapman is about to release a new cookbook. I'm very excited about trying out some of her recipes for sailors and there are probably a lot of recipes for folks who don't have a freezer like we have. I'll tell you about the recipes if I can somehow get the book and try some later in this blog.
Just before leaving for the NWP while we were in Scotland, I bought my German-manufactured Perfect Plus pressure cooker. I'd never owned one. Friends aboard boats had often told me how useful they are. My reluctance harked back to the agonies we all endured as my mother canned vegetables and fruit while the blasted pressure cooker whistled, screeched and on occasion shot off blistering hot steam or even emitted hot produce. It was our job to do the dishes, and cleaning the darned thing was a huge chore. However, we cook with propane and I realized it would be really difficult to get our tanks filled in Northern Canada (it turned out to be impossible until we got to Nome Alaska). I resolved only to bake in the oven once a week. So I bought the machine to make pressure cooker bread. A pressure cooker is the best way of saving propane fuel as it uses the gas in a very concentrated fashion. I ended up only using the oven to make gingerbread once a week. We rationed that to eat with our fruit desserts every night. Until we discovered tortilla wraps to use for sandwiches, I made bread in the pressure cooker.
The recipe for pressure cooker bread online didn't make bread that was very successful - Larry and Claude thought it was OK - it tasted like 'wet' Chinese bread. The pressure cooker was taking up a lot of galley space, so when I got to Victoria I went to a bookstore and bought the aforementioned cookbook thinking that if the machine wasn't useful to me, I'd have to sell it. About half of the recipes I'm using are made in the pressure cooker, and they certainly are successful. Alas - there's only enough food for a maximum of 6 people so I use other recipes when we have more folks aboard. At the moment, I'm glad no-one else wants to be here with us. ***It's just horrible weather (in Patagonia in September 2017)*** … we'd all be stuck inside, and I don't know if even the most delicious food could compensate.
The following is a list of our food (Lunches - L and dinners - D) along with spices used in them for the last week. Recipes in the Pressure Cooker Cookbook (PC CB) are listed by page number.
September 22 L and D: mulligatawny soup (p 122 Joy of Cooking) curry powder, thyme
23 L: mulligatawny soup D: whitefish salsa sauce:halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic cloves, ½ cucumber, 2 TBSP capers, 1 tinned red chili, grated zest and *and lime juice *freeze zest before trip
24 L: 4-egg omelette w. dried chili flakes, cumin D: curry chicken w curry paste
for the paste: kaffir lime leaves, garlic, fresh ginger, red chili de-seeded, fennel seeds, star anise
25 L: wraps w pickled asparagus, cheese and meat slice D: Jalapeño steak w sliced thin oven-fried potatoes
26 L: lentil and bulgur soup (p97 PC CB): bay leaf, caraway & coriander seeds, lemon juice paprika, cayenne D: Beef stroganoff - Worcestershire sauce (Em Bergen's trick for sour cream from full cream)
27 L: vegetarian goulash - rose harissa, smoked paprika red/gr peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onions n garlic, sun-dried tomatoes n tomato paste, veggie stock D: add noodles n fish
28 L: wraps as above D: steak w mushrooms, sliced thin new potatoes and carrots, broccoli
29 L: split pea soup w dried apple & apple cider (based on PC CB p 94) - thyme, celery seeds D: Coffee-braised chuck roast w balsamic vinegar peanut oil, allspice, orange zest, v strong coffee (PC CB p144)
Today (February 13) we're having a salad of purple cabbage, asparagus and heart of palm with blue cheese dressing, with leftover Bistro Beef Stew with red wine, carrots and figs (PC p146) For dessert we have papayas from jars and frozen blueberries … mixed with a little orange liqueur.
So that's how I'm spending my time out here.

At 2018-02-13 21:42 (utc) our position was 21°43.60'S 092°52.97'W

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