Galley: 1) the kitchen of a boat. Sally: 1) a venture off the beaten path, 2) a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position, 3) a witty remark.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How To Get Mail While Cruising

Thank you to Scott for the question regarding receiving mail while cruising.

I've done some research (lots of links to follow), and I'm also going to share a brief personal experience.

Two years ago we took an extended sail, basically three months, and beforehand I wondered about mail. My search led me to a company called Earth Class Mail, and if we had been planning a longer trip we would have signed up (more on that in a minute). At the time, however, we decided to simply have our mail held at one Post Office, and then forwarded to a second Post Office halfway through our trip. This almost worked right. Our mail went all the way to the right AK post office, then was oddly sent back to WA, and then was sent to AK again. As you can imagine this caused a delay, but we did get the mail.

Now, back to Earth Class Mail.

Earth Class Mail is a service that allows you to either read your mail online (scanned), shred it, recycle it, or have it physically sent to you. You get to decide, and the prices are different for each. After Scott's question, I spent a good amount of time looking into their services again, and reading a ton of reviews on the service. To sum it up:

1) There appear to be quite a few people who are very happy with the service, while also appreciating that it comes at a cost and has its limitations. For the reviews that I felt were "most real," and not "most rant," please follow the links below:

2) There are some people who seem quite unhappy with the service, but the unhappiness seems most related to the following items:

a) Earth Class Mail raised their prices substantially. (Here, I will note that when I considered signing up 2 years ago, I didn't see how it could possibly be so cheap. So, the price hike doesn't seem too surprising.)

b) They didn't fully understand the limitations/intricacies of what they were signing up for (my opinion), and thus were unhappy with the service structure. It appears to me that the Earth Class Mail site is quite detailed with information, but you do need to read it, and not just quickly sign-up.

c) They receive a lot of packages, which are expensive to have forwarded.

If you would like to read what appears to be the most read "I hate Earth Mail" review (2008), then visit the following link. But if you do, please read through the responses too, as there are many articulate folks who detail why they think the author is mistaken, and others who agree with him.

Now, if you read Pogue's New York Times article (link above), you will have seen a second option to Earth Class Mail called PaperlessMail. According to Pogue, PaperlessMail is cheaper, but offers far fewer choices for service. I believe one difference is that Earth Class Mail will forward you pretty much anything from a single envelope to a giant package, but PaperlessMail is not equipped to forward or deal with packages. They only scan mail and email it to you.

UPDATE: A third mail forwarding service identified is Voyagers Mail Forwarding Service.  Thank you to Carolyn (see comments) for noticing that I missed VMFS in my original post. You can read her comment for a positive review of their services. I also searched for other reviews, but did not turn up much except for this:

Mail Forwarding Advisor

Mail Forwarding Services Comparison Charts Note: These charts contain other services not yet described, but included in a detailed comparison below.

What does all this mean to you, as a cruiser? Well, for me it means:

1) It is very important to reduce your physical mail as much as possible. Get off lists, cancel catalogs, and sign up for bank statements, bills, etc. to be delivered electronically whenever possible. I say this because the less physical mail you have, the less stress you will have regarding delivery, and the less expensive a mail service is going to be.

2) As much as possible, understand where you mail is going. Check out the advice from these long time cruisers on ways to have your mail forwarding service best package and address your mail to clear customs, assist in delivery, and avoid "sticky fingers."

Cruising and Sailing Dictionary: Mail

3) Know all your options! I visited a cruisers' forum and found the following incredible summary on different services (including Earth Class but not Paperless or Voyagers). Do take note, however, that the survey was completed in 2008, so prices will likely have changed. On the plus side, more extensive services might be offered as well. Still, I think the info is valuable as a cross comparison of the different services' structures. I hope this post answers questions! I love comments and questions, so keep them coming! 

Thank you to Alect, from the flyertalk forum, for the incredibly detailed following information!! The remainder of this post is from Alect's research. Not mine.

We are moving to Australia in march and so I am looking for a mail forwarding service which:
  • provides online access to received mail
  • allows user to specify whether each item can be discarded, scanned or forwarded
  • allows scanning of content of mail
  • forwarding to international address, including aggregating several items into one package
  • ability to accept shipping of online orders (so not a PO Box) and forwarding to international address
 Well here is my brief review and research. Narrowed it down to the following services:

Bongo International –
USAMail1 –
Earth Class Mail –
US Global Mail –
USA Box –
Access USA –

My requirements were as follows:
• Wanted mail forwarded so that we wouldn’t miss any important letters or companies with whom we had forgotten to change our address
• Wanted a US mailing address for credit cards, memberships, online shopping etc…
• Wanted occasional package forwarding – eg if we wanted to shop online in the US because it was cheaper and have those packages sent to us in Australia.
• Wanted to have as much functionality and access online – view scanned mail, view incoming items, decided what to discard and what to scan or forward – this cuts down the costs of just forwarding everything indiscriminately.
• Possibly having subscribed magazines forwarded as magazine subscriptions in Australia are expensive
• Would be nice to have mailing address in a sales tax free state

Let’s take them one by one and review what I found out, and what I saw as the pros and cons.


• Setup fee - $35
• Annual membership - $132
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $20 per annum
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $187
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $48.89
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $81.77
• Consolidation – two boxes free then $3 per box
• Commercial invoice per shipment - $8
• Storage – 45 days free then $5 per box + $1 per lb per month
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning – NO
• Location of mailing address (not PO) - FL

• Setup fee - $25
• Monthly fee - $10
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $0
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $145
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $48.30
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $73.05
• Consolidation – $5 per box or 50% of savings
• Storage – up to 6 months
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning - $10 per letter
• Location of mailing address (not PO) – FL

US Global Mail
• Setup fee - $0
• Monthly fee - $15 or $150 annually
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $0
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $150
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $62.33
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $91.37
• Consolidation – $3 for boxes or $1.50 for letters and magazines
• Storage – 1 month free then $1 per lb per month
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning – not offered
• Location of mailing address (not PO) - TX

Earth Class Mail
• Setup fee - $25
• Monthly fee - $9.95 for annual subscription
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $3 per month
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $181
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $??? (would not provide)
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $??? (would not provide)
• Consolidation – ???
• Storage – 90 days free then 3c per day per item
• Online review and discard option – Yes (shredding and recycling)
• Mail scanning – 50 pages included in monthly rate then 50c per envelope and 25c per page
• Location of mailing address (not PO) – OR
• Monthly rate includes 35 mail items per month received after which 35c per item – higher monthly rates include more received pieces per month (they are the only provider who counts received items for the monthly rate)
• Although every other provider had set or estimated shipping costs, this provider would not and simply kept pointing me to the DHL site for an estimate. Other providers charge far less than retail DHL rates. I think this service is most suited to those receiving mail only which they want to read online – not suitable for those wanting packages forwarded especially to outside of the USA.

• Setup fee - $15 (silver)
• Monthly fee - $10
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $5 per name per month
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $195
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $39.75
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $49.75
• Consolidation – 50% of shipping savings
• Storage – 45 days free then $1 per lb per month
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning – 6 pages includes in monthly fee then 25c per page
• Location of mailing address (not PO) – TX
• Setup fee - $49.95 includes first 3 months rental
• Monthly fee - $9.99 after initial 3 months
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $25 once off
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $165
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $53.59
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $79.84
• Consolidation – $6.95 per package
• Storage – 45 days storage free then $1 per lb per month
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning – $2 up to 6 pages and then 25c per page
• Location of mailing address (not PO) – NY

Bongo International
• Setup fee - $0
• Monthly fee - $15
• Each additional name on the account/mailbox - $0
• Total cost for myself and my wife for one year - $180
• Typical 5lb package sent to Australia - $53.59
• Typical 10lb package sent to Australia - $79.80
• Consolidation – FREE
• Storage – 45 days then $5 per month per item
• Online review and discard option - Yes
• Mail scanning – 50c per page
• Location of mailing address (not PO) - CT

Some things to note
• Consolidation – some don’t offer it, some charge flat fee per box/package, some offer it free, and others charge a % on the shipping savings achieved by consolidation
• Scanning mail – some includes some scanning in the base price, several charged a flat fee up to 6 pages and then a per page fee – I figured that most mail I would want to scan would be 1-2 pages so the $2 up to 6 pages base isn’t good value – I would rather go for the lower per page rate on a needs basis

Based on my review and modeling of what/how I would use it, I ranked the following top 3:
• Bongo

I am going with Bongo as they seemed the best value for money in my case and they were very responsive to questions both online and on the phone. Among the top 3 they had the best balance of ongoing fees (no cost additional names), consolidation costs (free), shipping rates and scanning costs.

I would recommend based on the above info, if you’re looking into such a service that you model your estimated use and features and calculate your costs for each of these providers – differing requirements may/will result in different rankings of the above providers. __________________

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dowsizing III

When will I learn not to promise a post tomorrow? It never seems to work out for me when I do that. Sorry everyone. So...

If you missed the beginnings of this thread, follow the links for Day One and Day Two.

Otherwise, on to Day Three!

First, a status check:

1) If you didn't have time for a donation run last night, there will be a pile of cast-off kitchen equipment/dishes/utensils by the front door. Get rid of it today. If you already made the donation run, move on to number two.

2) Take stock: Your kitchen is now your experimental "boat galley." All your food is still present and occupying its usual spot. And somewhere, in your home, there are carefully labeled boxes of kitchen things you want to keep but don't plan to use on your boat. What next?

The "what next" depends on your time frame. If you are moving aboard in less than a month, it is time to get cracking. If you have more time than that, you can take the following steps at a more liesurely pace designed to fit your specific plans.

First, enjoy your "galley!" Each time you prepare food, take note of what is working and what isn't. If you decide that you packed something you wish you hadn't, now is the time to grab it (while it is still easily accessible).

Second, it is time to move on to those other rooms....

For your own comfort, I hope you have a head on your boat. I expect you will. What you may or may not have on board is a shower. If you do, don't tell me about it. Just quietly enjoy.

If you don't have a shower, think about how you would like to transport your toiletries up to the nearest shore-shower (usually marina based, but maybe a friend's). Our family has one primary "shower bag" that holds the shampoo, conditioner, soap, and film canister for tokens/quarters. The bag is large enough to also accomodate a towel and a change of clothing. Then, we each have individual, smaller toiletry bags that live in the head but can be easily tossed into the shower bag. The smaller bags hold toothbrushes, paste, razors, moisturizer, etc. This system has been working well for us.

Basically, just think space and transport. If you currently have 10 big fluffy towels for your bathroom/s and are moving onto a 36' boat, you're going to have to pare down. I'd suggest a couple bath towels per person. Keep in mind that all of this depends on the size of your boat. If there is only one of you on a 36' boat, you could probably keep all ten towels if you really wanted to (and you had a compression sack).

Your biggest concerns for paperwork on board are going to be compact organization and keeping things dry. I have two "snap shut" file boxes, and several plastic, zip shut folders that fit into the file boxes. Depending on what you are doing, how you are living, and what your work is, you may need less than this. Or you may need more. Think about where you will stow the file boxes, how you will secure them for sailing.

Your bedroom is about to get really, really small, unless of course you are moving aboard a great big boat. My guess is that isn't too likely, so it is time to think "less." Your closet is most likely going to require a great "weeding out" session.

This is a difficult spot for me, because everyone is different in what they like or need to wear for warmth, comfort, and sense of self. That said, you are not going to be doing laundry on your boat, nor will you likely be spending a lot of time ironing and pressing. You may have room to hang some clothes, but the rest will likely be stacking into cupboards or dry-bags. I'd advise erring on the side of plenty of extra socks and underwear, and less pairs of pants and shirts. Also, you'll likely bring too many clothes on board initially, and you can continue to pare down as you go.

For bedding.... after four years of sheets and blankets, our dream is to buy a warm and wonderful double sleeping bag, with several liners that can be easily taken out and washed. Unless you can afford custom sheets for your bunks, they are just a pain in the neck. Tucking them under cushions makes them wet from condensation, they don't fit well, and I just don't like them. That is our experience, and I cannot wait for that sleeping bag with liners! And if we sail somewhere hot, we'll just use a liner. Or we'll sleep on top of a liner. Or we'll sleep on deck. We haven't had a heat problem yet...

But truly, think about how you will outfit your sleeping area, and how you will deal with moisture if it is a problem. In the Pacific Northwest, we have found that the cushions you sleep on often need to be propped up when you leave for the day so that they can dry out (and thus not ever get really wet, which breeds mold).

Does anyone have specific questions about any of the above? I could tell you what I have in my dry-sacks for clothes, but won't bore you with those details unnecessarily. I could write more about how much I don't like sheets on boats, but it isn't really needed. If there is something I've missed, however, or information you do need, let me know! I'm happy to share our experiences.

We did move aboard with a five month baby. It can be done, and quite easily at that. I promise you that a baby will never ask you why it doesn't have a fully decorated and color-coordinated nursery, or why it doesn't have a table exclusively for changing diapers, or why you haven't spent all of your money on brightly colored plastic. The baby will be fine, and again, I'm happy to share our experiences if you have questions.

Coming Up:
The final downsizing installment. Number IV will be a short one! You're almost done!

Please leave your thoughts and comments. Cheers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

One-Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice

Let me tell you about curry. When you cook with curry, the food tastes like you really know what you're doing. Even I felt the stirrings of culinary accomplishment with this simple dish that doesn't taste too simple. It tastes good. Really good. And it tastes like you're good. So. Cook with curry, then wait for the praise and accolades.

Lovely, warming, and not too spicy, this is a one pot delight. Put it on your table tonight! Or, if you're like us, balance it on your knees tonight.

I have actually made this dish three times now, but it wasn't until this last time that I took pictures.

The first time I made this dish, I didn't eat a bit of it. I'll admit I have the peculiar habit of making dinners that I've never even tasted, and then giving them to people. Afterward, I go home and stress about about the food and whether it was any good, until eventually I make the same thing for myself to satisfy my concerned curiosity. Twice now, I have made dinners for families with new babies, and each time I made something I had never made before. Don't ask why. I don't know. It is especially strange considering a childhood experience involving a new recipe, Martha Stewart photography and a big dinner party (I'll get you my pretty! And your little cream cheese filled pea pods too!)

So, I made this recipe for the first time after telling a family I would bring them dinner. Then, I went to a kitchen that wasn't mine. The kitchen was also ill equipped for cooking, and had no camera. Seriously. Who doesn't keep a camera in their kitchen? Still, the dish smelled so delicious while cooking that I didn't worry quite as much as usual.

(Note: The family later reported that the biggest fan of this dish was their two year old. Yay!)

The second time I made this dish, I was at home, but my camera batteries were dead. Delicious! But again, no pictures.

Finally, round three. Everything worked out. Awesome easy dinner and pictures -- though I must say, with the dark evenings I'm having trouble getting good shots of the food.

One-Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice
You're supposed to bake this but I didn't!! Ha ha!

From Everyday Food
Serves 6

You will need...

4 tsp vegetable oil
1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1.5 inch pieces
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice (I heart basmati)
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I keep a jar of Organic Better than Bouillon around)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 cup evaporated canned milk. Works/tastes just great)

1. If you're going to bake this, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I didn't bake it any of the times, and it is just fine.

2. In a Dutch oven (!) or other heavy pot, heat 2 tsp oil over medium high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browning and just a touch of caramelizing. Transfer to a plate/dish and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add 2 tsps oil and onion to pot; cook, stiffing occasionally, until onion is translucent ~ 5 mins. Add rice, curry powder and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, ~ 2 mins.

4. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil. Scatter cauliflower over top (do NOT stir to combine). If baking: cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, ~ 15 mins. If not baking: Cover. Adjust heat to a very low simmer and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

5. Let cool 10 mins before serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My First Shot at Race Provisioning

I'm signed in! To my blog! I haven't written in something like three weeks, and am hoping that I haven't lost my readers. Do I have readers? Give me a C, give me an O, an MM, ENT!

Sometimes, when you think no one is reading, it is easy to type in your underwear, or without combing your hair, or without taking what you're writing too seriously. Then again, I just read an article today regarding personal respect of the publishing medium. I enjoyed the article. I appreciate the point, and I did comb my hair today.

So, where have I been? On my boat of course! The last three weeks have been crazy, psychotic, exhausting, very productive! My husband and I have been working non-stop to prepare our boat for both short and long range goals. Short: Racing in Round the County 2011. Long: Readying for next Spring's ski/sail season. We were up until midnight or after every night leading up to the race, repairing, painting, improving, cleaning, scheduling, planning, and checking the weather. I think the last was done every, oh, twenty-two minutes or so. And in the end, the weather forecast was a bit off. The forecasted 9 - 14 knots didn't show up, but 20 - 30 did. We broke a few things, but we had a talented crew, and together we pulled it off. Day One of the race wasn't so hot for us, as we had to sail off course for quite awhile to run some repairs. Day Two, however, was much more fun. And while our sail shape was a bit compromised (due to Day One events), we had fun, made up time, and finished in good order. Now, we have quite a list ahead of us to get ready for next year's race. Yes. We're planning already.

And one of the things I'm planning is food. This was my first time provisioning for a racing crew of 10 adults and 1 child. On the whole, it went alright. No one starved, but I did neglect to account for the possibility of 20% of the crew's sandwiches going overboard (when they suddenly scrambled to reef the main), and 10% being trodden upon and crushed in the cockpit. When nearly a third of the prepared lunch is suddenly... not available, it upsets your calculations a bit. Lunch was a little small on Day Two (sorry guys).

So that was a down point. Here are the other Pros and Cons by my estimate:

Pro: 20 fresh cookies from the bakery. Con: I should have bought three times as many.
Pro: 10 gorgeous assorted pastries from the bakery. Con: I should have bought a dozen brownies too.
Pro: We had power bars. Con: No one told me Tiger's Milk bars are funny now. Better brand next time.
Pro: We had homemade turkey and ham sandwiches with fixings. Con: I should have made them ahead of time.
Pro: A ton of cream cheese, organic butter and garlic in the mashed potatoes makes people happy. Con: No con, this one was pretty darn perfect.
Pro: If you saute onions and spinach in a dutch oven, and then add 24 whisked eggs, it works! I never tried to cook that many scrambled eggs at once before, so wasn't quite sure how it would go. It went well. Con: The bottom did burn a little bit, but we didn't eat that part anyway.
Pro: We had coffee. Con: Our french press coffee pot is way too small. We must research and discover another option.

Other Thoughts:
I wish I had thought to get instant cocoa and instant cider... but I'm not typically big on "instant," so these didn't occur to me. (In a flash of wisdom, however, I did buy a roll of paper towels. And I never buy paper towels. Except for races now). I also think it would have been nice to have a big pot of "drinkable" soup on the stove. Something like tomato or roasted red pepper soup that could be easily sipped out of a travel mug.

I also had bananas, yogurts and chocolates bars for folks to grab, but the Hershey's didn't go over so well. I was shopping on a budget, and Hershey's was on sale, but I think I should have splurged a bit and purchased "real chocolate." Call me Benedict Arnold, but I may have to do some off-island shopping next time in order to afford some better brands.

Finally, I did buy a 12 pack of Coke and a 12 pack of Lemonade, but no one drank them. I never buy those things either, so now I am drinking Coke (and enjoying it but feeling guilty at the same time).

If for some reason you want a breakdown of my menu plan, here it is:

Breakfast: Bagels w/ Cream cheese, yogurts, bananas, coffee/tea and orange juice
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo and mustard. Bakery cookies.
Snacks: Power bars, apples, chocolate (I ate the Hershey's).
Dinner: Hamburgers/Veggie burgers w/ fixings, Big Salad, Garlic mashed potatoes with cream cheese and butter.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onion, spinach and provolone cheese. Coffee/tea, orange juice.
Lunch: Ham and cream cheese Bagel sandwiches with lettuce and tomato. (We only got halves though, due to Day One's casualties).
Snacks: Power bars, apples, pretzels, ginger snaps, pistachios (and I ate more Hershey's. Someone had to).
Dinner: We were on the dock by 4:00, and the lucky among us went to the Yacht Club for Chili, Baked Potato bar, Mac & Cheese, Caesar salad and ice cream (others had to catch a ferry). YUM!

So, there is my rambling response to race provisioning. If anyone has great ideas or input from their own races/crew, let me know! I definitely want next year to be better. I don't like worrying that people aren't eating enough.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken and Kale Casserole

For you, I worked my way through a Martha Stewart recipe, using a total of 4 dishes only to discover that had I just thought ahead a wee bit, I could have done it all with only 2 dishes. And since one of the two is a colander, I say it doesn’t really count, and I can call this a one-pot meal.

So, in my pictures you will see the sad documentation of excess dishes. I encourage you to take a different path, the path that I’ll describe in my instructions. That way, at the end of your meal, you’ll save time and have more water left in your tanks (and that is important if you drink as much tea as I do).

On a final note, I made several adjustments and modifications to this recipe. The changes make it less expensive and easier for boat life, and thus more likely I’ll make it again. But even with the changes, it got great reviews! The grown-ups all loved it, and while the four-year old initially said nope, she got the hang of the ricotta and ended up finishing her bowl.

As usual, I’ll leave the original recipe intact and note my changes in parentheses. I have also included directions for both stove-top and oven baked options.

Chicken and Kale Casserole

From everyday food, Serves 8
You will need…

Course salt and ground pepper
¾ pound large pasta shells
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced medium
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches kale (1.5 lbs), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped (I used half kale and half beet greens. Love beet greens).
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken from ½ rotisserie chicken (I used one 12.5 oz can of chicken, drained. Less than 2 cups, but it was fine).
1 container, 48 oz, part-skim ricotta (the biggest container I could find was 32 oz, and it looked like plenty. It was).
3 Tbsp finely grates lemon zest, from 2 lemons (I used 2 Tbsp lemon juice from ½ lemon).
¾ cup Parmesan, grated (I used good old Parmesan “shake cheese”)

1) The original recipe called for baking this casserole. I modified for stove-top. If you want to bake it, then preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you will not be oven baking, head to step two.

2) In a Dutch Oven of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and leave in colander.

 3) In your newly empty Dutch Oven, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is beginning to soften, ~ 4 mins. Add kale, cover, and cook until almost tender, ~ 5 mins. Return pasta to Dutch Oven and gently mix.

Softening onions and garlic.

Kale and Beet Greens on top of onions, just before covering

Veggies mixed with pasta shells

 4) Stir in chicken, ricotta and lemon zest/juice. If baking, skip to step five now. If stove-top, stir in all ¾ cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and cover. Adjust heat to low-low. When pot begins to gently bubble, your casserole is ready! ~ 10 mins.

Freshly stirred, not yet simmering!
5) If baking, stir in ½ cup Parmesan, then top with remaining ¼ cup. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes. (Note: I’m assuming you can simply bake it in the Dutch oven, uncovered. I see no reason why not, but I haven’t tried it. If you want to follow Martha, then transfer your casserole mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish before topping with the ¼ cup Parmesan. This route will add one more dish though!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scraping Paint

Today, I scraped paint in the bow of the boat all day... and then I sprayed cold galvanizing paint.

Now it is stinky inside, and I'm hoping it clears out in time for dinner prep.

I do have a great new, one pot dinner recipe to share though, so I'll be posting that tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple-Nut Morning Puffins

In the morning, after the alarm goes off and I push snooze, the first thing I think about is breakfast. Not about eating it, but about making it. I let my sleepy mind travel through the cupboards and cooler, inventorying ingredients and figuring out what could come together for a filling, nutritious and yummy start to the day. Then, I map out my movements, deciding in what order I'll attack making tea/coffee, heating pans, slicing, dicing, and making/packing lunches. Once I have it figured out, I get up. This might sound a little control-freakish, but with incredibly limited counter space I need to have the progression of events mapped out ahead of time. I can also minimize dish use this way.

Example: This morning, I heated corn tortillas and melted cheese on them as step one for lunches, leaving the same pan warm and clean for cooking breakfast eggs. If I did the eggs first, the pan would have needed washing before I could warm the tortillas. Anyway...

Not too many mornings ago, my internal tour through the galley was coming up empty handed. Milk? Just a tiny bit. Not enough to make hot cereal. Eggs? Nope. Ummmm... I could make egg-less pancakes! Wait, not enough milk. And no syrup or yogurt or even juice. Just when I was trying to (unwillingly) wrap my mind around serving the hot cereal without milk, or with watered down milk, I remembered the peanut butter.

And then I remembered the apple. And the walnuts. And then I got up.

I was ready to make Apple-Nut Morning Puffins, topped with peanut-butter. Mmmmmmm! Why are they call puffins? They are muffins in a pan!

Peanut-butter adds protein power to breakfast!

You will need...

Vegetable oil for pan
4 Tbsp butter (I used a thoroughly mashed banana instead)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar (I used closer to 3/4 cup)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup fruit juice, orange or apple, or milk (I stretched my milk with water)
1 egg, (OR 2 tablespoon flax seed meal + 6 tablespoons water. Whisk them together and let mixture sit ~5 minutes. This is equivalent to 2 eggs... I like it better that way.) 
1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
peanut butter for topping

1) Stir together dry ingredients. If using butter, cut butter into bits, then use a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate butter into dry ingredients. Cut in until there are no pieces bigger than a small pea. If using banana, mix mashed banana into wet ingredient first.

2) Beat together juice/milk and egg/substitute and mashed banana if using. Pour into dry ingredients, mixing just enough to moisten. If mixture seems too thick/dry add milk/juice/water 1 Tbsp at a time. Do not over-mix! Fold in apples and nuts.

3) Warm pan over low heat. Add oil to lightly cover pan. Spoon puffin mixture into pan in ~ 2 Tbsp scoops. Any bigger, and you will have difficulty cooking them through before the outside burns.

4) When bottoms are nicely browned, flip each puffin and then lightly press it down with a spatula. This keeps them from being too "mounded" and not cooking through. When nicely browned on both sides, they are done!

5) Top with peanut butter for extra protein, or just butter if you don't have big plans. Great with coffee or tea!

Note: If your puffins are burning on the outside before they are done on the inside, your heat is too high.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Downsizing II

Alright. It is Day Two (Click here if you missed Day One). How does your home look this morning? There should be:

1) A big pile of stuff to get rid of by the door (unless your energetic friend took it to be donated yesterday).
2) A big pile of stuff out by the curb (unless it all got claimed yesterday, or you are hyper-organized and took pics of everything and listed it on craigslist instead, or you and your buddy had time to donate it all yesterday).
3) Piles of packed and labeled boxes (be sure to label those boxes!) of things you want to keep.
4) Rooms that are still unpacked, including kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and possibly office.

The first thing to do on Day Two is make space. If you made it through Day One without a friend, you will most likely need one today--preferably with a truck. If there is simply no one who can help, you may need to employ the likes of Got Junk.

(An aside, I won't frequently endorse specific companies, but Got Junk is amazing.We didn't use them for Project Downsize, but we did use them for remodeling cleanup, and they were fantastic. It doesn't matter what you need to get rid of. They show up, they sort it, load it, and take it away. The dudes who took our giant pile of stuff even picked over the gravel driveway for every stray nail, screw and bit of metal. They are not expensive, nor are they cheap, but they are worth every dime in terms of your time. Done.)

So, either call the number and sit back with your coffee for a few minutes, or get going. This part is simple, but repetitive: Load up vehicles to the brim, take to appropriate recylcling/upcycling/donation centers, empty vehicles, return home, and repeat (be sure to stop and buy your buddy coffee on the first trip). After your final trip, your home should be empty of the giant "to-go" pile, your curb should be clear, and you will need to eat lunch. Be happy your kitchen is still in good order.

After lunch, it's time to play The Visigoths are Coming! again, your aim being to pack as quickly and efficiently as possible. But let's pretend that Alaric is still a couple days out, so you can slow down a bit as you consider the following:  How much longer will you be in your current home, and will you be holding any dinner parties during that time? The answer to this question will inform what you will do next. If you will still be in your home for over a month or hosting parties, I'd recommend not changing much at this time (picture us with incredible food for a BBQ to celebrate our newborn baby daughter, and not a dish to be seen). Instead, you can either take the rest of the day off, or go start sorting through your clothing to decide what simply won't work for boat life.

If you will be in your home for less than a month and not hosting parties... Visigoths!

Again, you want boxes, and you want three choices: 1) Out the door, 2) Must keep but cannot keep on boat and 3) I really want to have this on my boat. Out the door gets packed and donated. Must keep gets carefully packed and labeled. On the boat stays right where it is in your kitchen. Basically, you want to purge your experimental galley (current kitchen) of all duplicates, all fragile items, and all things impractical for boat life (toaster oven, cuisinart, blender, etc.). You are trying to outfit your kitchen with the same things you will have in your boat galley, and then giving yourself the coming weeks to see how it works, and if you want to dig anything out of those carefully labeled boxes.

If all you have are glass or ceramic plates...  you can try, but I highly recommend enameled stainless as they are fairly attractive, indestructible, and can be heated to high temps. We have several ceramic mugs that have survived four years aboard. I'm against plastic as it isn't too good for you, scratches up, and can crack easily. You'll want to pare down utensils. Yes, multiple wooden spoons are good, but you don't need three spatulas, five ladles, two whisks, or twenty knives. Have fun pretending you are readying your boat galley, and really try to get everything you don't plan on having on the boat out of the kitchen. This will give you the chance to figure out what works, what is extra, and what you wish you hadn't packed.

Don't worry about food right now. This is a dishes/equipment only gig. Leave the food where it is.

At the end of this day, either make a last run to get rid of your "out the door" kitchen pile, or at least get it by the front door so it is ready to go.

Finally, make dinner in your "galley."

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheeze

Last night, my kid ate squash, nutritional yeast, and a whole pile of kale! A miracle... or Angela Liddon?

Angela is a woman who knows how to make the healthiest food even more fantastic, and I love combing her site for recipes that not only deliver the nutrition but work well on a boat too. Yesterday, I spotted this simple "mac n' cheese" recipe, which was originally vegan and gluten free. You can do that too by subbing in the appropriate spots, but I went ahead with the dairy and multi-grain elbow pasta.

Here is the result:

Four year old happily eats bowl of squash and kale!

You will need...

1 cup cooked and smashed butternut squash. I bought a bag of frozen cubes. You could use canned.
1 tbsp butter (or a non-dairy butter replacer)
1 cup milk (or use unsweetened rice or almond milk)
1 tbsp cornstarch
5 tbsp nutritional yeast. How I love nutritional yeast!
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt (or to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
4 servings multi-grain macaroni (8oz or half a 16oz package). Use brown rice pasta if gluten free.
2-3 cups kale finely chopped (or spinach, peas, etc.)

1)  Warm squash in pan with a little water to prevent burning. When warm and soft, smash with fork.


2) Prepare the cheeze sauce in a saucepan on the stove top. Add butter over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together milk and cornstarch (or flour) until clumps are gone. Add into pan and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, salt and pepper) and whisk over low heat until thickened ~5 mins.
Sizzle sizzle

This sauce is so yummy! I couldn't stop "sampling" it.

3) Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce makes enough to cover 4 servings of pasta.


When the pasta is done cooking, drop your chopped kale on top, into the water. Give a quick stir, count to five, and drain.

4) Blend your smashed squash with the cheeze sauce in same pan. You don't need a blender, if you have thoroughly smashed your squash, it will blend in nicely by hand.  If using canned, it will also stir into the sauce nicely.

Blend and blend and blend.
5) Return the drained macaroni and kale to pasta pot. Add cheeze sauce and blend. Warm gently if needed. 


6) Serve into bowls and enjoy!

Angela's pics are better than mine, but it tastes great!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread (and why you need it)

I baked bread!

In my Dutch oven! I’m not the first person to do this, but I’m still pretty excited. When my lovely, red enameled Dutch oven first arrived in the mail from friends, I had no idea how often I would use it. Nor would I have imagined the value of such a heavy piece of galley equipment on a boat. But I use it constantly, and now I’m using it even more because I’m turning into a bit of a freak. A food freak.

How so?

Well, I am only a wee bit informed about the troubles plaguing our food supply. I have read approximately ten pages out of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I’ll read it through after I finish my current book, Reality Bites Back), I finished a magazine article entitled Frankenfish, and I’ve wondered for quite awhile why propylene glycol is an ingredient in some cookies. Why is the main ingredient in automotive antifreeze in a cookie? Well, to keep it moist of course! But I don’t eat those cookies. Do you?

While baking at home, who thinks, “Honey, have you seen the propylene glycol? I swear I had half a bottle left..."

So, while I have been reading ingredient lists for quite awhile, I am turning up the volume. There are still foods out there with ingredients you can understand. Ingredients that do not require you to visit a database for potentially carcinogenic materials to double check the snack you are about to put in your mouth. And then there is the option of creating/baking/cooking at home. I baked bread. And it only had four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water. Now don’t get me wrong, I am really looking forward to trying the recipes for bread with extra ingredients. Ingredients like cheese. Or peanut-butter and jelly (!), but I can understand those ingredients without revisiting my college chemistry textbooks.

Jim Lahey's No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

So good with butter! Real butter.

You will need...

a Dutch oven!
3 cups whole wheat bread flour
11/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant or other active dry yeast
11/3 cups cool water (55 - 65 degrees F)
wheat bran, cornmeal of additional flour for dusting

1) In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon, mix until you have wet sticky dough, ~ 30 seconds. It needs to be really sticky to the touch. If it is not, mix in another Tbsp or two of water.

2) Cover bowl with a plate or tea towl, and let sit at room temperature (~72 degrees F) until surface is dotted with bubbles and dough has doubled in size. This will take a minimum of 12 hours, but Lahey recommends 18 hours. My trickiest part was keeping my dough warm enough, as our boat isn't exactly temperature controlled. But by keeping it close to our heater, but not too close, I did alright.

Note: If you prepare your dough around 8 or 9pm, it will be ready to bake the following evening and you can have fresh bread with dinner!

3) After first fermentation (that is what those 12 -18 hours were for), lightly dust work surface with flour and scoop dough out of bowl, in one piece, and onto dusted surface.

4) Gently fold and shape the dough into a round loaf for the second rise.

5) Dust a tea towel with bran or cornmeal, I used cornmeal. Place dough, seam side down, onto towel. Fold towel over dough and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

Doubled in size!

6) Prepare Dutch oven. You need a flat metal surface that will nest inside, but be held above the bottom. My enameled plates work perfectly, as their size allows them to sit low enough without touching the bottom. Depending on what you have, you may need to use a trivet (or an empty tuna can) to hold your surface up above the bottom. Dust your plate/surface with bran/cornmeal.

Plate nesting inside Dutch oven, dusted with cornmeal

7) Unwrap your dough and dust generously with bran/cornmeal. Invert onto your surface so that the seam side is up. Cover.

Seam side up!
8) Bake over medium-high heat for forty-five minutes, lifting lid every ten minutes to allow steam to escape. I am lucky, in that I can bake mine right on our Dickinson diesel Lofoten stove. If you have one, use it! When the top is firm (but it won't get crunchy) and you can just smell the bottom of the bread toasting, the loaf should be done.

9) Remove from oven immediately and cool on a rack if you have one. I don't, but I have found that a colander works nicely. Once bread is cool, wrap in a tea towel to keep for up to 3 days.

A loaf of bread! Without a conventional oven!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Southern Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens

With a recipe title that long, you wouldn't think one should necessarily tackle it while under sail. And perhaps one shouldn't. But I did, and I estimate that it took only roughly four times as long to make as it should have. Flying along at 8 or 9 knots with significant heel on, it was hard to get a grip on cubing chicken and shredding collard greens, but it can be done. A better question might be, "Why was it done?"

Well, our daughter's grandparents were visiting, and I had planned this as a yummy, new dish to try for which I already had many of the ingredients. Once I'd purchased the chicken (with no home refrigeration), I was committed. Given the increased prep time, we didn't eat until rather late, but it was so good when we did.What can compare to a hearty sail followed by a hearty soup?

Now, if you read my earlier blog entry, "Where am I?", you'll know already that I have only one picture for this recipe. Sadly, it is not of the completed, delicious, and beautiful stew. No, it is only of the (blurry) cup of peanuts before the wind picked up, the peanuts went flying, and we were sailing!

P.S. With this recipe, all the work is in the prep, sailing or not. After that, it's easy!

Southern Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens

Peanuts just before I chopped them, and they became airborne.
Recipe from Mother Earth News
Serves 6
You will need:

2 tbsp peanut oil (I used olive oil)
1 med sweet onion, chopped
11/2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated and minced (I used... oh, about 2 or 3 tsp of powdered ginger)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional. you could go veggie)
1/2 cup roasted, shelled peanuts, finely chopped (if you're wondering like I did, half a cup pre-chopped is about the same as 1/2 cup finely chopped)
2 - 3 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
8 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 cups collard greens, shredded with stems removed
11/2 lbs. sweet or regular potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used half sweet half regular)
4 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, diced, seeded and drained
3/4 cup peanut butter

Cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1/2 cup roasted, shelled peanuts, whole or roughly chopped
plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

1) In a heavy pot, heat oil to medium, then add onion and ginger, cooking for a few minutes or until onion is soft. If you are using powdered ginger, add it after the onion is softening, otherwise it will burn.

2) Add garlic and chicken and saute for a few minutes more.

3) Add the finely chopped peanuts and seasonings, sauteing for a minute or two. Stir in the stock and collards, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low simmer.

4) Add the sweet potatoes and tomatoes, then cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peanut butter. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5) Ladle into bowls and garnish: a nice dollop of plain yogurt/sour cream, a sprinkle of cilantro and a sprinkle of peanuts.

So warming and delicious!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Alright. We have a question. I say "we" because if any of you silent readers would like to sound off on this topic, please do!

Here it is: "How did you downsize and adapt [to life on a sailboat]"

First answer, it is most definitely a process, and every boat you live on will offer different challenges, and present different opportunities. As an eighteen year old living and working aboard, I found myself sleeping in a tiny room with seven other people. Men. Women. Young. Old. We were all crammed in there. We each had three small shelves, a few hooks, and our bunk. And it was much easier for me to stash my stuff than it was for me to put away my modesty. But, after a few days of trying to get dressed lying down and hunched up behind my bunk's curtain, I figured it out: just get dressed already. And I did, just like everybody else.

So, if you're moving aboard with others, you're going to see and hear things you might not in a house. But after awhile, you don't see or hear any of it. Or at least it doesn't register on the scale of unacceptable. It becomes your "new normal," and works out just fine.

But what about all your things? All the important, personal, assorted, strange, lovely and mysterious things you have collected to make your home your home. They won't all fit on a boat, at least not the boat you are planning for yourself. But can you get rid of them? The easy answer is sure. The real answer is, it's not easy. That said, I can give you an action plan that worked/is working for us. It isn't very philosophical, and I won't preach about how less is more, but I will say I honestly felt relieved as the piles kept shrinking. (Please note: the following is not only based on actual events, it actually happened)

Day One: Pretend you have to either pack up or get rid of everything in your home. SPEED is of the essence. Have a friend make runs to grocery/liquor stores for boxes, or do this for yourself in advance of day one, then get going. Quickly. Furniture should be easy. Its gotta go. "But wait!" you say, "The end tables were great-grandma's." That's fine, keep them for now. Heirlooms stay, everything else goes. I hauled our furniture out to the curb, and put a big free sign on each item. Either we had nice stuff or I was lucky, 'cause by the end of the day every item was gone (if this doesn't happen for you, it just means Goodwill trips later). If you just cannot imagine giving something away for free, fine. Take a picture, get it on craigslist, and keep moving. The point (and I'll keep beating this) is to not slow down.

(Note: Don't move your bed out to the curb, you're not moving yet)

Boxing is next. Remember, you are pretending that you have to pack up your entire home fast... so that is what you are doing. As you hold each book, vase, picture, ornament, lamp, throw pillow, figurine, shell, or ancient ticket stub, ask yourself: Must I have it? Not neccessirly Do I NEED it, because a great many of us have plenty of things we don't need to physically live, but still... there is undeniably some emotional life of import attached to some of our objects. Those are the objects you are trying to identify. So ask yourself, quickly, Must I have it? and answer quickly. No lingering over the stuffed beany bear to remember all the colors of the sunset as you walked down the pier after winning the carnival game. Once you begin engaging in lingering reflection, the pile of things to keep will begin to rapidly outpace the pile to go. And you want a big "to-go" pile.

That said, Don't Worry if your "keep" pile is getting way too big for your boat. It is okay. You are just sorting right now.

So! Yes or no? If no, into a box and into the pile by the door. If yes, into a box and into the "keep pile." If your friend is hanging tough, have them make runs to the Goodwill/Salvation Army/Thrift Store every time a car load is ready. If there is no friend, you can make trips tomorrow. The point is that you don't slow down with your boxing efforts. You are downsizing!

For this first onslaught, concentrate on the living room, dining room, hallway, family room, etc. Stay out of the kitchen, bedroom/s, bathroom and office (if you have one, you probably need it for your work). I pretty much completely emptied our living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen on day one... and then spent about a month wishing I hadn't been quite so efficient (think air mattress and borrowing dishes from the neighbors).

I will write about tackling the kitchen next, and the tactics I employed there.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?

"Day Two" will follow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carolina Slaw

We were invited to a potluck a couple weeks ago, and decided it was time to use the giant head of red (purple?) cabbage we'd been saving for about a month. Saving for what we didn't know, but when the potluck came up, inspiration struck. We would make coleslaw. Neither of us had ever done this before, however, so a search for a recipe was next. By pure luck, we struck gold.

Crunchy. Tangy. Not too sweet. This coleslaw is awesome. So good, that the entire bowl was consumed at the dinner, and there weren't that many people there. We cannot really take any credit for this feat, but we thank the creator of Carolina Slaw.

This recipe is easy, but it isn't fast, given the amount of chopping and shredding you need to do.

Carolina Slaw

Picture perfect purple.

Serves a bunch. Six to ten.
You will need:

1 large head cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, grated

1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup veggie oil
1 tsp dried mustard (we used 2-3 tsp honey mustard)
1 tsp celery seed
1 cup apple cider vinegar

1) Combine all chopped, shredded and grated veggies in a large bowl.

Beautiful veggies all piled up!!
2) Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Pour over veggies, toss well until veggies are evenly coated.

3) Cover and chill 1-2 hours, if you want it cold. We simply covered it, still warm, and took it to the potluck. It was delicious warm/room temperature too!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pasta a la Mama!

Don't you wish I named this recipe? I do!

And don't you wish you knew what to do with those dibs and dabs of left over pasta? I do!

I recently checked out two cookbooks from the library, and I have been reading them. Which is weird. I'm having a difficult time reconciling myself to the idea that I have spent two evenings--in a row--sipping tea and being fascinated by recipes. Recipes! And dreaming, dreaming, dreaming of an oven. And scheming, scheming on how not to need an oven... We'll see.

In the meantime, I found this great little recipe in Myra Goodman's Earthbound Farm Cookbook. That isn't the name of the cookbook though. I cannot recall the actual name, but the entire book is based on and developed from Myra's experience creating Earthbound Farm and the Earthbound Farm Stand. If you shop organically at all, I'm sure you'd recognize the Earthbound Farm label. I did, but I never knew that the farm began as a little two acre raspberry farm... or that there is a farm stand whipping out yummy recipes. Or that I would finally know what to do with my leftover pasta !

Too many times I have packed up the last bit of pasta nobody ate for dinner, put it in the cooler, and never used it. Why? Because there wasn't really enough to do anything with. Or so I thought. Enter...  

Pasta a la Mama!

Now, it may not look like much, but it definitely falls into the category of comfort food. Warm. Cheesy. A little salty (from the Parmesan). Mmmmmm. A breakfast so easy!

Serves 2-3  
You will need:

1 to 1.5 cups cooked penne or spiral pasta, cut into bit size pieces. (I sliced each penne in two the night before)
1 Tbsp butter
4 eggs, whisked together in small bowl
1/3 cup grated Parmesan. (Fresh is best, but I used "shake cheese")
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella (I substituted cheddar, still tasted great)

1) Warm the pasta if it is cold (I reheated mine on the stove top with a touch of water to prevent burning).

2) Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add eggs and cook for 30 seconds. Add pasta and mix, stirring constantly, until eggs just set.

3) Sprinkle Parmesan over top and stir to combine evenly.

4) Sprinkle Mozzarella or Cheddar over top. Cover. Cook 30 seconds more, then turn off heat. Let sit covered one minute. Serve immediately.  

Note: This recipe is easy, but moves fast! Be sure to have your cheeses grated and ready so as not to overcook the eggs, and don't let anyone interrupt you... I suspect I would have had better pasta/egg integration, but got sidetracked by a four year old.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lentil Salad with Grapes and Feta

For the last, oh... eight years oh so, we've often been short on cash. Occasionally we'll wistfully remember our too brief time of eating out often, and then eating out some more. We were young(er). We lived behind a grocery store and a string of hip little restaurants, and there was always plenty of feta cheese, chocolate ice cream, and long island iced teas.

Now, that long ago little home has been bulldozed (literally), and we've spent an increasing number of years focused on how to stretch a grocery budget... Yes, that was me you saw shopping with a calculator. And we know we're not the only ones in that boat (here, I was considering some awkward pun regarding being in the same boat, and actually living on a boat, but I'll skip that).

So what do you do? Love your Lentils. Best argument? I think they might just beat out the bean in terms of the nutrition count packed into one little legume, AND they cook much, much faster. When I found this recipe, I was quite excited to try a new lentil dish. Best of all, a friend had just gifted us with two lovely blocks of feta.

Lentil Salad with Grapes and Feta

Submitted to everyday food by Julie Sun, NY. Serves 4-6, is it a dinner or side?
You will need...

3/4 cup French of Brown lentils, rinsed (I used brown)
2 Tbsp Red-wine vinegar (I used 1 Tbsp white vinegar and 1 Tbsp red wine)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp honey
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (I used dried thyme to taste)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

1) In small saucespan, bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil. Add lentils, stir, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook until lentils are tender but not mushy, 20 - 30 mins. Drain and rinse under cool water.

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together red-wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil.

3) Stir in lentils, walnuts, red grapes, celery stalk and thyme. Add crumbled feta, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4) Voila!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where Am I?

I'm Back!!!

And I've learned several swell things over the summer that I'm excited to share!

Unfortunately, this isn't the post to begin, as I am just taking a momentary break from the eye numbing work of spreadsheets and proofreading/editing.

That said, we have had a most excellent summer filled with sailing, flying peanuts and even several new recipes. Once caught, the flying peanuts went into a delicious stew that I'm looking forward to sharing. The only bummer about the peanuts? I stopped taking pictures when things started getting crazy. We were sailing, and then suddenly we were sailing hard and I didn't have much warning. In my scramble to secure ingredients, I abandoned the camera.

I wish I hadn't.

I lost a chance to document what really goes on in a galley at times... and the insane mess surrounding a serenely gimbaled stove.

Next time!

And what is next up? A simply delicious lentil dish...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I'm Slow Right Now

I just wanted to give a brief explanation for why I've slowed down a bit, and a promise that I'll pick up speed again this fall!

Right now my daughter is out of school and with me full time, and we are living out on our mooring. On the mooring, the days are beautiful but the internet connection is shoddy. Also, without shore power I have to rely on our batteries... and it isn't so good to draw them way down by loading pictures.

I do hope folks will continue checking for news and recipes, since I will keep posting!! Just not as quickly as I would like. Come September, there will be some time and power...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sweet Mini Peppers Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese

For a couple weeks, at each visit to the grocery store, I've been walking past these two pound bags of sweet mini peppers. What would I possibly do with two pounds of sweet mini peppers? I asked myself that each time.

But... the price kept bringing me back :$3.59 for two pounds. Finally, I bought them. And then I had two pounds of peppers to use up quick. Fortunately, I discovered a recipe on the back of the bag. A recipe that called for preheating an oven to 350 degrees, but I'm getting better and better at disregarding that bit of advice.

For this post, I undertook a five dollar experiment. Herbed goat cheese plus a portion of the peppers, and the results were awesome. Plus, I had enough goat cheese left over for about three more peppers than you'll see in the pics.

No oven excuses. Wow your dock neighbors with these tomorrow night. But don't tell them how easy it was...

Sweet Mini Peppers Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese

You will need...

12 Sweet Mini Peppers
4 oz. Herbed Goat Cheese
1/2 Tablespoon Olive oil for pan

1) Wash peppers. Leaving the stem intact, cut a slit along the top of each pepper and remove the seeds.

2) Spoon cheese into prepared peppers.

3) Warm pan and olive oil over medium-low heat. Arrange filled peppers in pan, and cover. When bottoms are golden brown, use spatula and/or fingers to flip peppers. I rotated mine to three different sides, covering pan between flips.

4) When cheese is heated through and peppers are crisp-tender, they are done!

Almost too good. We want more.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Almost Greek Salad

We typically eat red meat about... oh, twice a month. This is because I will only buy "happy cow" meat, and because happy cow meat is much more expensive, I have to wait for those lovely orange stickers proclaiming "reduced". Love that orange.

If my husband gets the chance to go to the store, however, it is nearly certain that red meat will return with him (there is either a magnetism or a weakness there). So, we hit our twice a month quota rather rapidly in the last week, as he did go to the store and we did have burgers twice in a row. So I won't dwell on the burgers anymore. Instead, I'll focus on two more lovely side dishes you can easily make instead of fries to accompany your burger tonight.

These two side dishes are super easy, and looked "Sunset Magazine" in the words of my husband. Yum.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Almost Greek Salad

You will need...

A willingness to be imprecise. I didn't measure much...

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
potatoes! as much as you want to eat.
milk or cream
garlic powder
chives, chopped

1) Wash and clean your potatoes, and peel them if you like. I like to leave the peels on. Slice into quarters, and boil in salted water until tender.

2) Drain water and return potatoes to pot. Begin to mash. Add milk/cream, butter, salt and garlic powder to taste. Add milk slowly so you don't make the potatoes soupy, but just do everything to taste. This is really easy to make taste great!

3) Continue mashing (and tasting and adding) until potatoes are the consistency you like. Serve with butter and sprinkle with chives.

Almost Greek Salad
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
feta cheese (I used my leftovers from Feta-stuffed burgers! A couple ounces I think.)
Small handful Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped bite-size
1 green pepper, cored and chopped bite size
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
(olives would be yummy, I didn't have any)

1) In a medium sized bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, cucumber, green pepper and parsley.

2) Add a splash of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Toss well, and let sit five minutes before serving.