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.

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.