Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lies, Half-truths & Alternative Universes

“White foods” (sugar, flour and potatoes, most notably) are now
disappearing from my diet in an effort to return to feeling
attractive wearing my “itsy bitsy teeny weenie … bikini.”
Contrary to best-selling author Ann Vanderhoof of “An Embarassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude” and “The Spice Necklace:  My Adventures in Cooking, Eating and Island Lifenot all cruisers slim down, nor do they bond with the locals while simultaneously becoming stupendous Caribbean cooks.

Don’t get me wrong; I

However, I
  • packed on some pounds; while unlike Vanderhoof I rarely touched fried food, those French territory cheeses truly were a terrible thing to waist (click here to read more about that)
  • found the rampant tourism in many places created barriers to establishing authentic relationships (many locals are depend heavily on tourist dollars and our travel relied heavily on maintaining a very tight budget … click here to read about one of our most unhappy stops)
  • learned to consider up front how much space, heat and propane would be required to make anything.  For example, delicious as they are, there was no way I was going to spend 4 hours boiling breadfruit nuts (click here to learn about breadfruit and breadfruit nuts) in 80 degree temps in our 250 square foot, un-air-conditioned boat.
  • thus far, learned more about practical galley cooking from fellow cruisers than locals (watch for a future post on that)

To be fair, St. Lucian locals are not known for mingling socially with outsiders, arguably, for good reason if you delve into island history.  Most other places we were passing through, rather than staying long enough to learn how best to become more socially savvy cross-culturally. 

You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet. -- Couchsurfing
As we travel to destinations more off the beaten track, I expect we’ll find more opportunities to connect more with locals, as we did in Saba (click here to read about Saba) and Great Inagua (click here to read about Great Inagua).  My greatest hope is to give more than I take when those encounters happen, from the heart, rather than the wallet as we did with our Couchsurfing experiences. Wayne and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting others in our hometowns via “Couchsurfing” (click here to learn about that international organization), and we befriended folks where we were Couchsurfing guests and still keep up with some.

Your Turn
  1. What are some of your greatest travel experiences, especially ones where you made a genuine connection with someone who called where you visited “home”?  
  2. Can you share a story of when your travel experience differed drastically from your expectations, especially compared to what you’d read or heard?
  3. What tips can you offer to us and other cruisers to keep in mind going forward on socially engaging with locals (and keeping the pounds off)?
Meanwhile, whittling those pounds off, albeit slowly, doing the usual "move more, eat less," with a goal of a lookin' good in a bikini by cruising season, and staying that way.  And if I'm fortunate enough to learn more in someone's kitchen this coming year; that would be awesome.  But I'm not expecting it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Two Tickets to Paradise?

Nassau to Atlantis bridge
View from Nassau mainland to “Paradise Island”
from Journey’s cockpit.   We are on the left side of the bridge;
“Paradise Island” is on the right.
But a bridge away from Nassau, sits the site for two Bond flicks (click here to get your Bond audio grove going), “Casino Royale” and “Thunderball” -- Paradise Island.  More Paradise Island star-studded trivia?  “Survivor: All-Stars” contestants Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich were married here, on camera, of course.

Indeed, Paradise Island’s sprawling mega-resort Atlantis is perfect for a glitzy movie set; it seems more surreal than real.   True retro splendor, Atlantis is the granddaddy of gargantuan Bahamian resorts; the country’s first large scale resort (history buffs, click here).

Staying in Atlantis’ marina is essentially the cruiser’s “E-ticket” for the island.

"Wild horses" -- the other kind of bronzed beauties
frolicking at Atlantis' Paradise Island
Swim with the seals (click here to see), dive with the dolphins (click here to see), serve stingrays their supper (click here to see), slide past sharks (click here to see), whoop it up in the waterpark (click here to see)…. It’s an aquatic Disney, a fancy fishbowl, where the animals are real, up close and personal.

Of course, the marina costs a minimum of $200/night, too.

If a tropical Vegas meets Disney is your idea of a great escape, Altantis is for you.

paradise island
Atlantis' fanciful towers loom large
over Paradise Island's skyline.
As for us? We were just low-budget lookie-loos, as usual. We thought we might be able to check out one of the aquariums, slipping past there through the casino just before closing.  No luck.  No tickee, no lookie, even for lookie-loos like us.
atlantis resort
Chihuly glass; one of many larger-than-life
objects d'art abounding at Atlantis.

We did consider slipping off for a rare splurge in Atlantis , to sleep one in “a real bed.” In fact, we’ve yet to sleep on a “real bed” together since August 2012.  But wallets won over wistful wishes. 

Curious about what a “real bed” is for a Pearson cruiser (our by our definition, anyway)? More about that in a future post, soon.

Note:  This post is a retrospective.  We were in Atlantis in May 2013, but didn’t blog about it then.  As Tallulah Bankhead famously quipped, “Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have time.” Or, it would seem, decent internet. Whether I’m a “good girl” or not, well, opinions vary.

atlantis, paradise island
Aquatic Disney wedding cake? Maybe; though this one
at Atlantis isn't underwater, though it does "take the cake"
when it comes to over-the-top decor.
At the time of this post, we are in Jacksonville Florida busy re-establishing our cruising kitty and making purchases at West Marine with my associate discount.  We plan to set sail in December. 

What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

“Don’t Blow the Boat Up!”

galley recipes
Getting ready to cook.
We’ re not talking about inflatables here, but my husband’s lack of confidence in my ability to use a pressure cooker for the first time.

Pressure cookers and bread machines on board are controversial among the cruiser crowd.  Much like cilantro, seems cruisers love ‘em or hate ‘em but it’s hard to find folks who are neutral. Check Cruiser’s Forum or better yet, click this Women in Cruising Forum if you don’t believe me.

On the pro side for pressure cookers?
They cook way fast.  An example? Dried beans that I’ve boiled for hours and might still be chewy even after soaking overnight and even sometimes followed by a pre-boil and soak, can cook after only 12-20 minutes of boiling after a presoak.  When it comes to keeping the heat down, that much shorter a cooking time can make a huge difference.  Then there’s the bomus of using less propane and less electricity to power the propane.  Some cruisers also use pressure cookers to safely store cooked food without refrigeration (a famous proponent is Lin Pardey in her classic “Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew” book).

On the con side?
There’s the fear factor; my husband’s “Don’t Blow the Boat Up!” comment as a case in point.  I confess to some genuine fear and trepidation myself!  As with many “gadgets” (though pressure cooker fans may extol many examples of pressure cooker versatility), ummm, like breadmakers, if unused, are expensive (used/bargain $40, though $200 is not unheard of for a 6-quart Fagor), space-sucking dust-gatherers.

The Experiment: Playing with Pressure
You’ve likely guessed by now I decided the proof’s in the pudding (or in my case, beans), and decided to give it a go.

A couple kindly marina neighbors, Dee and Ron (click here to see Ron & his sweet senior schnauzer) loaned me their 6-quart Magafesa pressure cooker and “Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes.”  Better yet, they told me and showed me how they used it and encouraged me to flag them if I had any trouble with it.  I took them up on their offer when I saw steam escaping from the side, rather than through the pressure valve, I asked for help.  The lid just needed a bit tigher/different torquing down.

pirate party Ortega Marina
Galley Wench carries a whip(er) but
not a fuse.  Thanks Kate Hallock for
the photo from Ortega Marina's
pirate party.
The Result? 
Excellent!  Ron & Dee wanted the recipe, which inspired this post (scroll down for recipe).

I will definitely buy my own pressure cooker, soon!  Even here when we’re in a marina with an air conditioner plugged in keeping it cool is still a big deal, the other day the heat index hit 107 degrees farenheit. As far as what specific pressure cooker to purchase, I will most likely follow The Boat Galley’s reccomendation and get a Fagor.  I’m betting its lid is a bit easier to slide on and off than the Magafesa.

As far as breadmakers?  Another post, another day….

Meanwhile, our tummies are full and the boat is still intact;).

Ta-da!  The cassoulet, ready to take into work for lunch.
Quick Summer Cassoulet

6 oz pork jowl, smoked and sliced*
1 sweet onion, medium sized, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 T garlic, minced
2 14 oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes (used organic Muir Glen blackened tomatoes)
1 T lemon thyme (couple small sprigs)**
1 T marjoram  (couple small sprigs)
1/4 t ground sage
1 t black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper
1 c white cooking wine
chicken stock***

*could use salt pork or bacon instead
**could use fresh thyme and lemon juice or maybe lemongrass as an alternative
***used ~1 t chicken "Better than Bouillon" and water

·       Slice the pork jowl like thick bacon strips, then julienne.  Cook in 6 quart pressure cooker with the lid off.  Drain fat.
·       Dice the onion and the bell pepper.  Saute with the pork jowl until the onion is transparent, about 3 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook a minute more.
·       Add all the remaining ingredients.  Fill pressure cooker with as much water as it takes to fill pressure cooker to roughly the half way mark.
·       Secure lid.  Bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to its lowest point that can still maintain a simmer.
·       Cook 15 minutes.
·       Cool 15 minutes and open.
·       There will likely be a lot more liquid than desired.  If so, strain the solids from the liquids (though personally, I find the liquid refreshing and didn't drain off a bit).

·       Serve!
lemon thyme, cuban oregano, basil
Lemon thyme - my "secret ingredient;" not available while cruising.
Do you use a pressure cooker?  If so, what's your favorite recipe or story?  Any explosions?

What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Marina Life: Orphaned Otter Odyessy

Otto the Otter:  in his early orphaned days.
You never know who your neighbors will be when you're going nomad.

I missed out meeting on this guy; he came and left before my time.

Bertie, one of my walking buddies here in Ortega Marina, Jacksonville adopted an abandoned baby otter in the hopes of helping him return to the wild.  That's not quite how it turned out, but there is a happy ending anyway.


Check it out when you click this link.

*What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cruising Cooking vs. Marina Cooking (& Favorite Ship & Shore Soup Recipe)

Posole soup and toppings stored in small containers for
microwaving at work.  Cruising soup leftovers would be
stored in one big container, ladled out into a saucepot
for heating a one-meal serving.  
Whether land’s days or at least a dinghy ride away, or is one step off the boat onto the dock makes a difference in cooking, even though meals are prepared in the same small galley.

What Doesn’t Change?
With shore power delivering practically unlimited energy all the time, I no longer need to rely on solar and battery power.  But I still use few electric appliances, mostly just a 1-cup food processor used maybe once a month or so.  I run the oven even more rarely than I do at anchor as we get little breeze in the marina.

What’s Different?
1.    Choices Here in Jacksonville, unlike most places we cruise, while not as exotic as the SouthEastern Caribbean (sigh… no soursop), my basic ingredient choices are almost unlimited… in particular….
Fresh & local produce white acre peas and mangoes are delicious locally grown surprises
Spices & ethnic foods my old favorites, at last! hominy, chili powder, enchilada sauce, fresh tortillas, fresh dill and lemon thyme plants…
2.    Affordability  A week’s worth of food costs us about $150 and we’re consistently getting more quality and variety for our money than we did cruising.  We don’t skimp.
3.    Portability Eating at work for us means bringing a lunchbox.  That means lots of little containers and other single sides, like little yogurts (hooray for lower suger Yoplait lights) and handfuls of baby carrots or cherry tomatoes.
4.    Community Gumbo and cobbler are a bit much for the two of us, but are great for sharing.  In a marina, that’s easy, and welcomed.  Some shared posole is the inspiration for this post (recipe follows).
5.    Separate Meals Between our alternate work schedules and different food preferences, we rarely eat together and often Wayne’s food choices are quite different from mine.  I’ve nearly eliminated wheat and potatoes from my diet; those are Wayne staples. 
6.    Inspiration Farmer’s markets, a “veggie bin” (produce “grab bag” like community sponsored agriculture) fellow yachtees, national public radio, and more choices encourage concerted efforts to break out of my culinary rut.  Some winners?  BBQ butternut squash, warm white acre pea salad, quinoa fruit salad, Benedictine, strawberry nutella muffins….
7.    Rot (aka “unintentional science experiments”) All that fresh produce and little containers, independent meals rammed into our tiny deep fridge is not always a good thing.  Much as I try to avoid it, we are throwing more spoiled food away than we were cruising.

As promised, my favorite ship and shore "comfort food" soup....


The New Mexico area serves some fabulous Posole (also spelled Pozole), a filling spicy Mexican soup-stew. It contains hominy, which is dried corn kernels that have been soaked in a lime solution to remove the hulls.  This particular recipe is easy.  However, when planning it, just remember it takes nearly an hour of boiling time to cook.  Provision hominy, canned chiles and your favorite chili powder and the rest of the ingredients generally aren’t too hard to find cruising.  The fresh topping can be skipped in a pinch.  

          vegetable cooking spray*
1 1/2 lbs. lean, boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 c     onions, chopped
2 cloves     garlic, minced
2      4-oz can chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 t     chili powder
1/2 t     salt
1/2 t     pepper
6 c     canned no-salt-added chicken broth
4          15 1/2 oz cans white hominy, drained
1 1/2 c     thinly sliced radishes (optional)
1/2 c     thinly sliced green onions (optional)
1/4 c     chopped cilantro

      Coat a large stockpot with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot.*  Add pork, and cook 4 minutes, browning well on all sides.  Remove pork and drain well; set pork aside.  Wipe drippings from pan with paper towel.  Recoat pan with cooking spray, and place over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes.  Add chilis and chili powder; cook 2 minutes.

*I omit this step when cooking in a nonstick pan, though usually add ~1 T extra virgin olive oil for flavor.

      Return pork to pan.  Add salt pepper and broth; bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Add hominy; cover and cook 30 minutes.

      Ladle into bowls; top with radishes, green onions and cilantro.

source:  Cooking Light, Nov/Dec 1993

Watch for a future post on galley changes before returning to cruising….  What is and isn’t making the galley cut?  What’s getting added?  What’s being hotly debated, and why?

*What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.