Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just Chill'n

The fridge just isn't an option on most small boats.

You can't be a goumet if you start with water logged, squished food that has been you dug out from the cooler or icebox. Travelling with a cooler or two is a must on most small boats, even if it is equipped with some icebox. Keeping your food resembling the stuff you took out of the refridgerator takes some practice.

The zip lock baggie is the greatest invention ever made, not only for packing the cooler but for a multitude of uses on a boat. I carry at least three different sizes on boat.

In my early days, I bought a nifty set of three nesting round plastic containers with lids. I was so proud of myself, thinking they would be so handy to stop food from getting smushed and they would all pack away so nicely when the food was gone.  Like a bad carpenter, I forgot to measure twice, or even once. The largest of the three bowls would not fit in any of my coolers. (Yes, I have many.) Round containers meant much of the space in the rectangular cooler was made useless. Worst of all, none of the lids were as waterproof as advertised. My other half does not view green salad dressed in swampy cooler water as a delicacy.

Great ice bags can be made out of ingredients frozen in baggies. One of my friends who fears of rough weather always travels with a one-pot dish frozen in a baggie. Another buys the wine box, takes the plastic bag out of the box and lays it in the freezer. You pick your priorities, but when you're ready to go take the bag out of the freezer and put it on top in the cooler, works much better than having just water melt.

Boeuf Bourguignon
  • This is definatley a make at home dish and always tastes better the next day.
  • Works well if frozen in meal size portions in ziplock bags. Good for a big crowd.
  • Great for rough or raining days when asking the cook to do anything more that heating one pot is likely to result in a mutiny.
1/4 pound thick-sliced bacon
3 pounds boneless beef chuck
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound onions, chopped
1 Stack of celery, sliced thin
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brandy
1 tablespoon parsley
2 teasppoons of dried thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (supposed to be a Burgundy, but I improvise.)
1 pound mushrooms, quartered if large

Cook bacon in boiling salted water 3 minutes, then drain.

Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl toss the beef with the flour to coat.

Heat 1‚ tablespoons oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef well on all sides in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, adding remaining ‚ tablespoon oil as needed. Transfer to a bowl.

Pour off any excess oil from pot, then add brandy to pot. Deglaze by boiling over high heat 1 minute, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then pour over beef.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in cleaned pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté bacon, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chopped onions, garlic, and celery, then sauté, stirring, until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine, meat with juices, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and cloves simmer gently, partially covered, until meat is tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (Or cook in a slow cooker for 8 - 10 hours.)

While meat simmers, blanch boiling onions in boiling salted water 1 minute and drain in a colander. Rinse under cold running water, then peel.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saut
 boiling onions, stirring occasionally, until browned in patches. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water (1 1/2 cups if using pearl onions), then simmer, partially covered, until onions are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat remaining tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saut
 mushrooms, stirring, until golden brown and any liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir mushrooms into stew and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Guest Advice - Cruising with Children - Allison Pressley

Being new to the whole sailing lifestyle, I had no idea of what to expect or a through grasp of how we were ever going to be able to cruise with two young Children. Fortunately, my husband Dave has an extensive background sailing. As a young child with his sister and his parents and a dog on a 24’ shark they sailed to the Thousand Islands for a week’s vacation. I couldn’t even fathom how that was even possible! Our boat is 30’ and at times we are all tripping over one another. The most important tips that will be paramount when sailing SAFELY with young children aboard.


Before we even arrive in Port Dalhousie and the boat leaves its berth we routinely, repeatedly go over what behaviors are accepted and what are not. Therefore they know what to expect ahead of time and there are no surprises.
• Life Jackets are always to be worn before they even open the gate to the dock and they can not to be taken off unless safely on land and not near any water source.
• There is no running or horseplay on metal docks as well as on or near our boat or any of the other member’ s boat.
• We’ve taught them the appropriate way to board a boat. (They have each not listened and they have fallen between the boat and dock. Needless to say it only happened that one time...a valuable lesson learned the hard way!)
• Not to get in the way or attempt to help a boat dock -- they are too young and could get seriously injured.

Out on the water on a beautiful sunny breezy warm day no one ever wants to think of things going terribly wrong. But we do! Like the fire drills we practice at home, out on the water we practice “Emergency Drills” so that they know what to do when a real emergency arises!
• To remain calm -- panicking or creating hysteria helps nothing.
• We all have positions and very important Jobs to do. Mom steers the boat, Alyssa immediately throws the life ring, the man overboard pole goes into the water with moms help. Kaitlyn never takes her eyes off her Dad and keeps her finger on him. Alyssa helps out where ever needed.
• We’ve taught them how to use the VHF, when to use it and that it is not a toy, but like using 911 but only out on the water.

In all of our drills it is usually the most experienced on the boat who goes overboard, so that the less knowledgeable will gain the necessary skills to be able to react swiftly in an emergency and for it to have a favourable outcome.

In unfavourable weather conditions, the girls have to go down below, no matter how seasick they feel or become. Before we leave shore we make sure we have an adequate supply of gravol.

During the winter months the girls take swimming lessons at Brock University, where they have learned how to swim with a life jacket and many other very important skills, which they will be able to incorporate if they are ever thrown into an emergency situation out on the water.

Cruising with Alyssa and Kaitlyn has been such a wonderful experience. It IS possible to cruise with young children. Safety is paramount and cannot be taken lightly. If all the appropriate safeguards are in place your destinations won’t be limited by your family but rather on your time it takes to explore them all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

First Things First - The Essential Coffee

The golden rule on a small boat is that you never bring anything onboard that cannot do two jobs. Coffee is an essential for me. I am talking about real coffee, instant doesn’t cut it. How instant coffee survives on the market is an entirely different conversation. Instant coffee is not on my boat and never will be.

I attempted to be a coffee snob, bringing the coffee grinder and whole beans on board. I reasoned that the coffee grinder could be used to grind whole spices, as a second chore. I never brought the whole spices on board. The coffee grinder was loud. My desire to be a coffee conessuer where not always appreciated by the couple on the next boat at 7 am. I finally relented, and returned the coffee grinder to the kitchen at home.

I have gone through a number of brewing methods. A friend of mine has an electric perculater, circa 1950. To me it always looks a little electrically unsafe and does seem to overload the breaker on the shore power on far too many occasions. The newer electric perculators all seemed too big for my needs. A stove top model meant giving up a burner on the stove. Since I had no stove, that was an easy choice not to make.

That left the drip filter. I bought the individual cone and made one cup at a time, illiminating the need for a separate coffee pot. That had its downsides. The process was slow. I made a cup and gave it to my partner Jeff. Then I would make mine. By the time my coffee was made and I felt ready to get ready to make breakfast, Jeff was looking for his second cup. Keeping coffee filters on board was problematic. They always seemed to get wet, crunched or lost. On the plus side, all you needed was an electric kettle. The electric kettle could make teas, coffee, cup a soup and warm dishwater. Yes, the electric kettle had no trouble justifying its place onboard.

Eventually I settled on the French press. The pot is small enough to be stored easily, it makes 3 boat sized cups at time and only requires the kettle. The resulting coffee is superior in taste to any other method, in my humble opinion. The down side of the French press was everyone else likes it, too. I had to replace my French press twice. I lent it to other boaters and instead of returning it they gave me money to replace mine. They would not give me my French press back. I must be honest, I do now, also carry a regular 12 cup coffee maker on board. There is a reason for that, but that story belongs in a different post.
Jamaican Coffee - This will not help you navigate to Jamaica, but will keep you warm until you get there!
1 ounce Jamacian dark rum                                
1 ounce Tia Maria
3/4 cup hot strong coffee 
Whipped cream fro topping