Category Archives: From the Galley

Spring Rolls all Summer

There are three big reasons to make spring rolls a couple times a week all summer long. Firstly, you get to enjoy the best summer ingredients in their raw glory, or alternatively, the best fresh ingredients you can get while you’re cruising really shine in a spring roll. Second, because all you do is boil a bit of water, it’s an easy cook and clean. I normally get away with a quick wipe of the bowls when I’m done. And then finally, they’re flexible. Anything goes for ingredients with these things, so like all the other recipes I like to share, here’s a roadmap rather than directions so you can make these with all your favorite stuff.

The other night, it was spring rolls for dinnah. #gf #vegetarian #boatfood

Wrappers: Choose the ones that the clerk at your Asian grocery suggests. Some brands break easily, some are too thin or thick. Ask for help. Grab lots of them and keep them in the larder on the boat or at home on land. It’s a pantry staple for me.

Noodles: Rice vermicelli. To soften the noodles, just boil up a kettle of water. In a bowl, put the amount of noodles you think you’ll need and pour over the water. Cover with a plate, they’re done in a few minutes. Water-saving boat tip: Save that hot water aside, you can use it to soften the wraps later on with a little added hot water still left in the kettle.

Fillin’s: It doesn’t take a lot of food to fill a rice wrapper and if you’re going to use noodles, it stretches the good stuff. Even if you just have a few things, I bet you can get a nice yield of spring rolls to please your crew. Last night, I piled in 8 or 10 French breakfast radishes I grew m’ self, 4 little white turnips, 2 carrots, mint leaves, and a few leaves of napa cabbage. Any cabbage will do, removing the outer leaves so the rest of your head of cabbage lasts longer (I used to just cut into the head for shreaddy cabbage- it lasts longer this way). Roll them up and chiffonade. No noodles in the pantry? Just do extra cabbage to fill up room. If you’ve got the patience, cut root veggies into match sticks for maximum pretty.

Other fillings to try: japanese pickles, sauerkraut, kim chi, thinly shaved salami, marinated tofu, grated raw beets (chioggia or golden work awesomely), peppers, chives, whole cilantro leaves, fresh green beans, scrambled egg with a little mirin in it (kind of like tamago), edible flowers that show through the wrapper, and pretty much every single green ever. Below: Pea greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, baby greens, and chives.

Early harvest: thinning peas and radishes, taming chives, oregano, and dandelions. #gardening

Assembly: The best tip I ever got from my local Asian grocer was to have a bowl of hot water (I normally use my biggest frying pan for it) and to dip the wrapper in for just a few seconds. When you put the wrapper down onto a cutting board or counter so you can fill it, by the time you’re done piling the fillin’s, it’s just perfectly gummy and ready to wrap up.

Here’s a tip from me- put all your pretty stuff down first. I do this in a little line in the middle of the wrapper, from left to right in front of me. Lay down a cilantro or mint leaf, then line up some pretty red, orange, yellow, striped, beautiful things on top, then some cabbage, and finally a little handful of noodles. I just get into the noodles with my mitts and tear a little handful. For consistent sizes, you could measure everything. Eyeballing is totally fine. I make them about the width of my hand and about an inch or so around- easy to bite.

Fold in each side toward the middle, then grab the part of the spring roll that’s closest to you and stretch it over the whole thing, forming the little packet of goodness with your hands, and roll the whole thing away from you toward the remaining tab of wrapper, the part that’s away from you, and stretching it gently around as you go to form a the last part of the envelope. Equal parts gentleness and fearlessness is how to handle these. (I’ll add a video showing this later.)

If you stacked it like I described, you’ll have a little leaf or your brightest ingredients showing through the top of the roll. Also, if you’re going to tote these to a potluck or a dinghy raft up, they might stick together. I pour a drop of olive oil in my hands, rub them together, and run my hands around each roll, refreshing the olive oil supply in my hands from time to time. They come apart like a dream later on.

Dippin’ Sauce: I guess you could buy something, but build out your pantry so you can make dressings for everything all the time, and you’ll be ready to make a top notch dipping sauce. I do bout a half cup of tamari with a couple top notch modifiers. Por ejemplo, you could do a couple tablespoons of brown mustard or wasabi if you have it, fish sauce, mirin, chopped peanuts, chopped onion or chive, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, Singha beer, a bit of honey, red pepper flake, sriracha, that sort of thing. My go-to? Tamari with the brown mustard and a bit of vinegar with floating goodness like chopped peanuts.

The only thing to do now that all this is done is to make sure it’s cool with your friends to double dip, because you’ll want that awesome sauce on there. I’m half kidding. Think ahead and have a spoon for your dipping sauce bowl though. I like to take a bite of a roll and then spoon the sauce right down into it.

Enjoy, and let me know what you come up with!

Salsa! Or, Alternatively: Abundance Demands Action

Salsa

Here’s a potluck item or a nice little crafty gift for people you meet. At the end, I’ll get to what I was doing there with the packaging.

There’s a great farm stand in Oriental, NC that’s a good bike ride away, a 5 minute drive, or a very long walk. We had the luck of meeting someone at this cafe who offered us a ride to Paul’s Produce stand, and when we got there, we picked out a bunch of stuff and all of it was very fairly priced.

“See that box over there?” said, I presume, Paul himself when we brought our things to the counter to pay. “You can take the whole thing off my hands for a dollar.”

So we did, and when he tallied our bill up it came to $7.50. Whoa. We walked out of there with two huge bags of produce and this box, that was mostly made up of long-in-the-tooth tomatoes.

“Does that sound fair to ya?” Yeah Paul, TOTALLY.

Paul's Produce

SALSA. That’ll use these up. We wouldn’t eat them all in time if it was just the two of us cooking with them. We were in Oriental, where every day you meet new people, other boaters, cruisers who are now living on land… I had salsa ready for every social occasion, including a great time aboard s/v C:\[esc]. This recipe goes out to Ellen!

Now, just like all the other recipes on this blog, I’m laying this out like a roadmap, not a set of directions. You can double this or back off on some of the flavors. However, to get this to taste like what we shared in Oriental or what you’ve had at one of my Dia de los Muertos parties, then you need the first 5 ingredients on this list. The rest is variation and you don’t necessarily need it.

2 tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups, yeah I know, tomatoes are all different sizes)

2 scallions, in nice small slices showing off their little ring shapes. Don’t just use the greens, cut right down into the whites where the flavor is. (Only have onions? COOL. Do a nice dice to 2-3 tbsp of them)

juice of 1 lime (No limes? Put a few dashes of apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar in there. about a tablespoon or so. Lime is key. If you think this should be more zesty, throw in more juice or vinegar. Too much? Balance it with the oil.)

salt to taste, start with a teaspoon

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (count that? we’re to 5 ingredients. BAM, simple salsa.)

about 2 tbsp cilantro (more if you love it!)

1 finely diced jalapeño, or a few tablespoons of diced poblano or anaheim peppers, or a chipotle pepper from one of those little cans of chipotle

a clove of fresh garlic (If you do this, have it pickle with everything overnight so the garlic isn’t so pungent. Garlic powder is also pretty good if you’re in more of a rush. More garlic tips below.)

mango, pineapple, black beans, corn, or somesuch fancy thing chopped and added. Adjust your dressing (you know, your citrus and oil and salt) to cover this extra stuff. But yes, this is is one way you could make any salsa you’d like, really.

I don’t think I need to write directions here, because you just mix these things and put them in a bowl so you can proceed to delight your guests. Having it chill or pickle in its juices for a little while is nice but not necessary.

When I made this in Oriental, I made a batch with cilantro, then ran out of cilantro, so to get a nice distinctive flavor I took the couple tablespoons of oil that I’d be using and put it in a pan first. On a low and slow temperature, I added a couple of cloves of minced garlic to sweat into the oil, then when I went to dress the salsa with it, I poured the garlicky oil in there. Boom. Garlic salsa.

Jars to Leave as Gifts

Above in the picture you can see that I made some labels for jars of the stuff.

I collect a couple of things that makes this easy. I always have magazines on hand that have colorful photos in them so I can make tags or wrap small gifts (these came from a diving magazine) and I always have glass jars saved for all kinds of uses around the boat. I pick a page that I think will work, with some space in the photo that gives an opportunity to put words in, and I fold the paper and bend it around the jar to approximate the lines where I’ll have to cut so it fits around the jar. A bit of tape at one end, pull the strip of paper around and neatly tape the other end, then write on it. Write on it ahead of time and you might trim some of the lettering off.

If you don’t process the cans give your gift receivers a heads up that it’s fresh salsa and not for the cupboard. It should be eaten within a week.

Also, don’t process salsa that’s made from tomatoes like the discount ones we got. Canning and preserving should be done, always, with the freshest ingredients for the best results and for your health.

Salsa is easy, do play with the flavors. It’s just enough work and it’s so nice and fresh that it’s always received with a lot of joy. Mix and taste, add dashes of what you think might be missing, and make it your own.

Tell me where you take it, I’d love to hear your salsa tips!

 

 

Eggs In Purgatory With a Twist

Eggs in Purgatory is a very simple, healthy way to prepare perfect eggs. You’re poaching in a sauce on medium-high heat, gently steaming the tops by putting a cover on the pan. Then, you can serve this on starch of some sort: traditionally bread or polenta. I can imagine using cornbread or rice, too. Being that I’m south right now, I have excellent grits on hand and spiced them up a bit with some canned chilis. For the sauce, I had some really lovely marinara sauce that had been made by a vendor at the farmer’s market in Brunswick, GA and was just waiting to be used for something like this where it could shine.

Here’s a roadmap of ideas for making eggs in purgatory:

sauce (pasta sauce, salsa, crushed tomatillos, etc)

eggs (local, beautiful, organic if you can)

starch (crusty bread, corn bread, polenta, polenta cakes, grits, rice, tortilla chips…)

extras for the starch or toppings (onion, chopped garlic, green chilis, jalapeño, herbs like cilantro, oregano, etc.)

Get going on the starch part first if it’s not already done (bread and tortilla chips make this a really quick meal to prepare).

In a small frying pan, cover the bottom in about 1/2 inch of sauce and heat until just starting to show signs of getting steamy. Drop the egg in there, cover the pan. Every 30 seconds or so have a quick peek at the egg and when it looks like it’s how you want it (anywhere from sunny to over hard) just scoop it out with a spatula.

It only takes a minute or two to cook the egg depending on how you like it, so be observant and don’t walk away too long. The whites will be nice and soft, and it’s easy to make an over-medium egg this way without overcooking the whites.

That’s about it! Take this for a walk and let me know what you come up with!

Repurposing: You Probably Already Have that Thing You Need

I regard pretty much everything as objects with more than one purpose, and I’m unlikely to buy something that does a particular job. Rather, I opt for things that can fill in for many jobs around house and boat. Here are a few examples of things I’ve been using or re-using that might help reshape the way you think about the stuff you’ve got or about the packaging you choose when you’re provisioning. This isn’t just for boats, by the way. Land folk will like this, too.

Net-like Produce Bags as Beachcombing Treasure Keepers

Onions, potatoes, and citrus from the supermarket come in a variety of bags, and lately I’ve been opting for the plastic netting ones so I can take them to the beach for shelling or reuse them at the farmer’s market for more produce. The bags collapse right down so you can even keep one in your backpack for spontaneous shell collecting, and when you’re done collecting and want to rinse your finds, you can dunk the whole thing in the water to get rid of sand.

Come to think of it, they’d make a good colander for produce, too. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m thinking that next time I process and clean some greens, I might wash them in one of these bags then whip it around up on deck, using the centrifugal force as a salad spinner.

It’s important to make sure you don’t LEAVE these bags on the beach. Ever. Animals can get caught in them. When you do dispose them eventually, consider shredding them up so birds don’t find them at the landfill and have trouble with their beaks.

Parmesan Cheese Containers as Handy Tupperware

I have a slight weakness for salty, dry, shelf-stable cheese of late. I’m also finding that the shape and top of these shaky containers is useful for a slew of things. Here are a couple of examples: Its long shape is perfect for storing wrapped butter as you use it, cutting from one end and leaving the rest wrapped, you just keep it wrapped end side down. Similarly, I eat veggie sausage that comes wrapped like Jimmy Dean Sausage (called Gimme Lean) and store it the same way.

I also keep popcorn toppings in it. We love to use a mix of nutritional yeast flakes, salt, italian herbs, and a dash of garlic powder on popcorn. We premix that flavor combo in a shaky cheese container and voila! Ready to go. If it’s a nice looking container and you want to give an edible birthday present, you could put together an herb blend/popcorn topping for a friend and give it to them in this, with a homemade label.

Shells or Rocks as Soap Savers

No need to go out and buy a one-job dish to take care of your soap. Just use a handful of rocks or pretty shells in a regular little bowl to help circulate air around your bar. Where’d I get that pretty little bar of soap? From this lady here.

shells in the soapdish

Packing Tape as Lint Collectors

I mail a lot of stuff and generally find that clear mailing tape has a lot of uses in general. Great for hair and lint pickup, you just make a mitt around your fingers on one hand, spiraling the tape as a single layer loosely. By making it loose and holding it to your hand with your thumb, you can flip it around to use the other side. We just had a guest over with a very hairy dog and this trick made cleaning up very easy.

Shopping Bags and Packaging as Dog-do Bags

I don’t buy those neatly rolled things anymore. Even though I’m trying to eliminate plastic from my life entirely, stupid shopping bags seem to find their way into my realm. This goes for most packaging too, like packaging and wrapping from paper towels, bread, rice, chips, beans, potatoes, crackers… you name it. Even if it’s not shaped like a traditional bag, odds are it’ll work just fine for this job. Think about it, you just need a mitt big enough for the job and enough wrapping to get it to the nearest trash bag.

On that note, digging a 6″ hole when you are in the wilderness is acceptable, too, and we keep a camping spade in the dinghy for trips like that. Ditch the plastic bags that are just for that job. You’ll save money and plastic.

Paper Towel Rolls as Bag Storage

Now that you’re saving all your packaging to pick up dog waste, you can pack bags into paper towel rolls and put those neatly away somewhere. No massive, crazy stuffing or piles, just columns of bags ready to use.

Got some tips for me? Let me have ’em!

Deviled Eggs, an Awesome Potluck Schtick

Deviled eggs!

These aren’t just deviled eggs in this picture, these are HUEVOS DIABLOS! That’s right. The yolks are mashed with sour cream, Valentino hot sauce, and a dash of salt. You can throw out that dusty little can of paprika that’s followed you around from apartment to apartment (or from boat to boat) and you can leave the mayonnaise for another time. Like for fry time. Mmm. Fries and mayonnaise.

I digress.

There are so many ways to prepare the flavors in deviled eggs that I really feel this little number is making a comeback. It’s easy to delight people of many walks- gluten free, vegetarian, or on a strict no-carb diet. Also, if you’re looking for something to be “your thing” at a potluck, this might be just the ticket!

Let’s just jump right into how to cook perfect eggs, ok? Be sure to get all the way through because I have other flavor ideas below!

Here we go!

1 poblano pepper

1 tomato

scallion

sour cream, or even better, crema Mexicana or crema Salvadoreña- plain yogurt would work ok too

eggs, probably 8 or 10 of them to make a nice plate for sharing

salt

hot sauce- something red and not too hot is good for most people, and this is to your taste.  Valentina, Tapa Tio, Tabasco, you get the idea.

The most important part of this recipe is cooking the eggs. Overcooking makes for tough whites and dry yolks, even though they’ll be salvaged somewhat by the delicious filling. Here’s how you avoid weird green bits and bad texture.

Start with a pot of salted, room temperature water. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of vinegar because I heard once that it helps with peeling. The best thing to do for easy peeling is to buy eggs well before you need them, and let them hang around for a week or more. Anyhow add the eggs in, making sure you’ve got about an inch of water over them. Now you turn on your burner and bring it to a boil and let it boil for just a couple minutes. Now cut the heat off and just put a cover on. Let that sit for about 12 minutes. They’ll be perfectly, gently, beautifully done.

If you’re ashore and have access to a lot of water, run the tap into the pot as it sits on the bottom of your sink to bring the temperature of the water in the pot down and to stop the cooking. Just let it run and spill out over the edge for a little while, as only land folk can do, and when the temperature is closer to room temperature again, go ahead and pick up each egg and tap it on the bottom of the pan to crack it a bit. While you’re peeling eggs, this will hopefully help the rest of them be more peel-able.

Not on land or short on water? That’s ok, this is just finesse. I swear it works to help with peeling and to stop cooking the eggs. You can just take them out of the pot. Or you could do the same thing with your salt water pump and just give the eggs a little rinse when you’re ready to peel them.

Peel and cut the eggs in half lengthwise with a non-serrated knife. Wipe the knife between eggs so they all look absolutely perfect. Just kidding. No really though, wipe the knife. They’ll look a little better.

Now you can just lightly push the sides of the eggs to pop the yolks out into a mixing bowl. You don’t really need a spoon, but be gentle if you must use one.

Mash the yolks with the sour cream and hot sauce. Add both to taste and texture preferences. Salt to taste. For my 10 eggs, I used the whole thing of one of those little sour cream containers. I had a LOT of left over filling (that I then used as a base sauce for this really delicious rice) so you could probably use less.

Then you just put all of it into a pastry bag or a plastic bag and snip the corner, pipe it into the eggs. The poblano, tomato, and scallion toppin’ isn’t fussy. Just cut little cubes and drop a few pieces on top of each.

Now. Other flavors:

mayonnaise, wasabi, pickled ginger on top

mayonnaise, crumbled bleu cheese, Frank’s Red Hot sauce (buffalo wing!), chopped celery/carrot on top

Greek yogurt, dill, chopped cucumber on top

mayonnaise, chopped bacon, diced tomato on top, serve on a plate lined with lettuce (BLT!)

mayonnaise, sriracha, scallion on top

mayonnaise (just a tiny bit), thousand island dressing, chopped sauerkraut and a little strip of corned beef on top

What flavors can you think of that would absolutely dominate the pot luck?

Curried Vegetable Stew

From the pantry... Potato curry #food #galley #sailing

A couple of pantry items that I can’t do without are Thai curry pastes with nice bold flavor and coconut cream (or milk) with all the fat in it. This recipe is great served over rice or as a soup- you can stretch it really far when you serve it over grains.

If I don’t use all of the curry paste, I just place the whole can into a plastic container that’s slightly larger than the can itself and keep it in the ice box. It lasts for a really long time, even if we run out of ice and it lives at room temperature.

“But Anne, I just buy those curry packets.” Yeah, I have a few of those too. However, if I buy potatoes and a few other flexible pantry items instead, I can make homefries, latkes, curry stew, chowder, or whatever out of them. If I buy curry potatoes in a packet, that’s all that animal does. Same goes for beans, grains, and all that- I never buy pilaf mixes or little packets of rice and beans. Pre-seasoned food is predestined food, and I like more flexibility than that.

Ok, here we go!

1 can coconut cream (milk will suffice, avoid the lower fat stuff as it just doesn’t have the texture we’re going for here)

a few tbsp of curry paste (my favorite is in the picture- I get a few cans from Asian groceries to keep on hand, makes a great broth, too. Regular grocery stores often have the “Thai Kitchen” brand handy in green and red. Those are ok too.)

Vegetables: peas, potatoes, kale, spinach, squash, garlic, cassava (also called yuca or manioc, very inexpensive in the Caribbean), lemongrass, onions, etc. Go nuts. I only had potatoes on hand for this one. Wicked simple. You could also add beans, lentils, chickpeas… the point is the delicious sauce!

Saute your vegetables under a nice low to medium temperature. Add the coconut cream, which will melt nicely into the mixture, and bring to a simmer. If you’d like it thinner, add a little bit of water. Now add your curry paste in. If you’re new to the ingredient, I would put a table spoon of it in a small bowl, add a bit of hot water (or a bit of broth from what you’ve got going already) and thin the paste for easy mixing. Add the thinned paste into your vegetable mixture to taste, as it can be hot and spicy for some people. The coconut cream mitigates the heat, so mix it in bit by bit and incorporate it well and give it a taste.

You do taste your food while you’re cooking it, right? I didn’t know I could do this until way late in the game. Wow has my cooking improved.

Serve this over rice, quinoa, or whatnot. Make extra and eat well for the next couple of days. Bring the curry paste to the table when you serve it, you never know if you’ve got a spice fiend, like me, at the table.

Let me know where you take this one, I’d love to know what vegetables you use and where you’re using them!