Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday Tips #7 - Keepin' it Cold

There is not a cruiser on the planet that doesn't hate their top-opening fridge. They're hard to organize and inevitably the thing you need is on the bottom. While I've solved some of those issues with the Beer Tubes and Beer Box, the one thing I've had problems with is the loss of cold through the top lids. I've tried a bunch of different seals and I've insulate the lids with extra styrofoam board, but after a sundowner discussion with another cruiser I decided to try a different approach. I bought a memory foam kitchen mat and cut it to fit the top of the fridge. I lay it out on top at night or if we're going to be gone for the day, but since it's kind of a pain to get it on and off, I don't leave it there during the day when we're in and out of the fridge a lot. It has made a substantial difference in how cold the interior of the fridge stays. When we're on the dock and have air conditioning like this summer we won't use it much, but when we're on the anchor and in warm weather I suspect it will be use all the time. When it's not in use, it rolls up and stows nicely in the aft cabin. Not bad for a $20 investment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Tips #6 - The Greening of Crusing

You know how the doc is always trying to tell you that green leafy things are healthy for you? Well, it turns out that's true in more than one way. According to a study done by NASA, it turns out that many common house plants remove toxins from the air in enclosed spaces. And whether or not you see any personal results in the toxin department, looking at a plant is known to have a calming effect. We have an English Ivy onboard that we've had almost since we bought the boat, one we've named Starbuck. Whether or not he actually removes any toxins, Starbuck has become a mascot of sorts. He started out life as a $1.25 tiny pot from Wal-mart and has since spawned several young'ns that are living on other boats. So dust off your green thumb and give it a try!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesday Tips #5 - Coffee Stains and Stainless

I don't know about you, but I've just about finished converting all of our drinkware to stainless steel. We have the Thermos brand coffee mugs that keep things either hot or cold for hours on end, and the Thermos brand cold drink 16 oz thermos and our giant stainless tall cups for when we're underway. The problem with all of this stainless is that coffee and tea do, in fact, stain it. While I have one of those nifty long-handled brushes to reach down into these narrow-mouthed, tall cups, it just doesn't get rid of the deep-down stains that accumulate over time. The best solution I've found so far is to fill them up with hot water, plop in two denture cleaning tablets, and let them sit overnight. In the morning, wash with soapy water as usual and the cups will look brand new inside. This works great for porcelain cups as well but we don't have any on the boat due to breakage risks. The denture tablets work on pretty much anything stainless, including pots and pans that might have discolored from something you cooked. I usually just buy the store brand, but any of the ones in your local store or on Amazon will work.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday Tips #4 - Trashy Talk

Tuesday Tips #4 - Trashy Talk

One of the biggest challenges in living on a boat is trash. If you're underway on an extended voyage, or if you're in the islands where it might be a week till you get somewhere that has trash pickup, storing your trash can be a challenge. On Kintala we've come up with a method that helps us deal with it.

  1. We deal with as much trash as possible before we leave the store parking lot or dinghy dock. We remove anything from cardboard boxes - cereal, crackers, bacon, soda - if it comes in a cardboard box it gets removed and the boxes tossed. Even in the States we bring our cart out of the store, park it right by the trash or recycling bins, and go to work. Anything that can be bought in bulk and stored in reusable containers is great - flour, sugar, oats, pasta.
  2. We transfer milk from the plastic container into quart stainless bottles. It's easier to get to the milk (which is usually on the bottom) if you're only trying to pull out a narrow quart jug instead of a full gallon jug. It also gives us the opportunity to recycle the plastic jug while we're near trash rather than carrying it with us.
  3. Anything that can be washed, dried, and squashed is then stowed in a dry trash bag - glass bottles, tin cans (flattened), aluminum cans, plastic jars and bottles, paper, cardboard. The dry bag can be stored anywhere in the boat, even on the aft berth, without fear of odor or drips.
  4. Anything organic that can go overboard does. We have a "does it float?" test. If it floats and we're at anchor or in a harbor, we don't toss it overboard. Nobody wants to be enjoying their pristine sunset vista with somebody else's salad floating by. Examples are lettuce, orange skins, egg shells. If it sinks, it goes overboard. Examples are pretty much any meat bones, some meat scraps.
Following these procedures leaves us with only the remaining food scraps that can't go over as well as coffee filters and other soiled paper and plastic - we can usually go 10-14 days on one tall kitchen can bag. I recently read an article about a woman who generates no trash. We're a long way from that, but working toward it the best we can.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday Tips #3 - Even Heat

Tuesday Tips #3 - Even Heat

Baking in a boat galley oven has its challenges. Most galley ovens, at least the older ones that seem to grace most sailboats I have the fortune of visiting, are badly insulated and made of lightweight, thin metal. Keeping an even distribution of heat is a challenge, at best. If your galley oven is constructed like mine, it has a metal subfloor. Locate a pizza stone that fits that space, or use a combination of unglazed terra cotta tiles to line that subfloor. The stone will absorb the heat and redistribute it evenly throughout the oven cavity. It will also maintain the heat when you open the oven to check on things or to rotate them, so you will use much less propane. I was unable to find a rectangle pizza stone that fit my oven so I purchased the terra cotta tiles. If you use them, be sure to verify with the dealer that the tiles are lead-free. All tiles sold in the U.S. are supposed to be lead-free but I had the vendor contact the manufacturer to be sure. I bake my pizza directly on the tiles with only parchment paper between, and lead was not the seasoning I was looking for. The terra cotta tiles are also much less expensive than a pizza stone of comparable size, so they can be replaced when they get too dirty. Now with the tiles installed, my cakes are more evenly baked, my pizza crusty, and the cook happy!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Tips #2 - The Cold Butter Problem

Tuesday Tips #2- The Cold Butter Problem


I love baking, and moving onto the boat hasn't changed that. Our Tartan 42 has a wonderful galley, and I bake often in it. I also happen to have a captain with a particular penchant for cookies. Inevitably, making cookies is an impromptu thing, spurred on by the realization that I've already heated the oven for dinner and may as well not waste the propane used to heat up the oven. This usually results in the realization that I don't have enough softened butter to cream with the sugar, something I nearly always do by hand. After a lot of experimentation, I've come up with a solution to the dilemma that works so well that I use it for biscuits, pie crust, and any other recipe that requires cutting cold butter into a flour mixture. All you need is a very inexpensive cheese grater like this one, although I've had mine for over twenty years.

Take your chilled or frozen stick of butter and grate it into your bowl. If you're cutting the butter into a flour mixture, then grate about a half inch of the stick and stir that in, then repeat until it's all mixed in. Using a whisk, it will cut into the flour mixture in no time. If you grate it all then try to stir it in, it will clump into a ball and make it harder. If you're grating it into sugar to cream, do a small portion as well, mixing it lightly into the sugar until you have it all grated. After its lightly mixed in then you can beat it to cream it into the sugar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tuesday Tips #1 - The Venerable Spatula

I have a lot of people ask me how I've handled various things on our boat so I decide to start a "Tuesday Tips" section on Cruising Comforts. If you have any suggestions or questions for future posts, please leave a comment and I'll try to address it.


Tuesday Tips #1 - The venerable Spatula


A good, silicone spatula is one of the most valuable tools in the galley. Aside from the obvious, that you can easily scrape all the peanut butter out of a jar and save you money, it can save you many unpleasant hours of boat plumbing by scraping dinner plates clean and not running the greasy remnants down the drain. It saves precious washing and rinsing water by scraping the dishes before washing as well. I use mine every single day, so much so that I have three of this particular model. I like it the best because it has a smallish head that fits into most jars, and the edges are sharp so they clean incredibly well. It's offered on Amazon, but it only comes in a package of three assorted spatulas, the other two of which I gave away. In my mind, it's cheap insurance. I can think of many better ways to spend the afternoon than cleaning out the sink trap.