Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Never-ending green onion

I found this post (used with consent) over on Leave Happier, a  non-cruising blog I enjoy from time to time.  I love the idea for cruisers who seem to end up lacking vegetables frequently, but I'm not sure what kind of container would be safe and useful on a boat.  Any ideas anyone?


Have you seen the green onion trick floating around Pinterest? I think (although I can’t be 100% sure because Pinterest is Pinterest) that it was originally pinned from this post on Homemade Serenity.
I have never had luck with growing herbs in the kitchen window, but this only involved tossing onion roots, onion roots that I would otherwise throw away, into a glass of water. Of course I was going to try it.
And it totally worked.
The tall ones back there? I first cut their original tops off and put them in water about a week ago. The others have been added in as they get used. Do I go through an abnormal amount of green onions?
They’re technically not never-ending; Homemade Serenity says you can probably get 7 – 15 clippings from them if you take care of them (empty and replace the water, rinsing the roots, every day or two). But buying green onions seven to fifteen times less often, and having a nice little burst of vibrant green on my kitchen windowsill, seems like an excellent deal to me.Thank you, Pinterest, for being useful this week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In search of Real Food

I spent a few days last week with my daughter and my 3-year old grandson in Iowa, the heart of the corn industry in this country, the place where you can drive for a hundred miles in the summer and not see anything but the two rows of corn on either side of you, so tall that the plants block out any view you might have of the flat terrain.  The irony in this situation is that they live in the middle of one of the most plentiful food production locations in the whole country and my grandson can't eat any of it.  Not a bite. Why?  Because he suffers from food allergies to nearly every common allergen - corn, wheat, gluten, dairy, preservatives, you name it.  He was first diagnosed because he quit growing, moving from the 95th percentile in height and weight to the 10th percentile in just a couple months, and began displaying a variety of splotchy rashes all over him as well as a mouthful of disintegrating teeth.  The food he was eating was no longer nourishing him, it was quite literally starving him.  Organic, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, additive-free food he can eat is available - at 2 stores in the whole of Iowa City - at the cost of a mortgage payment each month, difficult at best for two graduate students trying to live on a stipend. The high cost is due to the fact that there are no organic foods growing there in the middle of GMO land, all of it has to be shipped in from distant locales.

I told her they need to go cruising.

Vegetable market on Jane StreetOne of the greatest advantages to going cruising, especially on a tight budget as we will be, is that you tend to cook a lot and eat out very little.  This is the first step to eating Real Food.  Another advantage is that you tend to buy local, using the farmer's markets and fruit stands that are accessible to the boat via foot or bicycle.  Eating organic foods is a lot easier when you can buy them at less than a month's wages at a local market.

Maybe one of the most overlooked advantages is that you tend to carefully watch portions, since refrigeration space is limited and not very reliable and the idea of throwing good food away just doesn't fit in a cruising budget.

On the drive back home from Iowa City to Saint Louis I was passing the time listening to NPR.  They had an interesting interview about the idea of regulating sugar in this country (something that will never happen) and the doctor they were interviewing made the statement, "Eat . Real . Food" as part of his attempt to persuade people to move away from the highly processed foods that are wrecking our livers.  After spending the week trying to find food to cook for my grandson and listening to stories from other friends of my children who are dealing with the same food allergies in their children, this story served only to emphasize  our need to move toward a more healthful and whole way of living.  What better way to do it than to go cruising.

See you out there...

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Comfort of Touch

I've had a monstrous cold for the past 2 weeks and a total loss of voice for 9 days of it, but life goes on whether we feel good or not.  Tonight I was sitting at the kitchen counter working on the computer when Tim came up behind me and proceeded to knead my shoulders in exactly the right place (knowing that place is a perk of 40 years together).  I was immediately restored, the tension in my shoulders gone, the headache fading, a smile on my face.  It got me to thinking about how busy we are in this country, and how little we touch.  Although a worthy topic, I'm not talking about sex here, but rather the simple touch - a hug, a neck rub, brushing someone's hair, rubbing their back, holding their hand. A connection.

Cruisers, and the cruising life, are known for a laid-back attitude, easy-going schedules or none at all, and we, like all the other wanna-bes are eagerly working to that end, but unfortunately we're still firmly ensconced in the 5-year plan and haven't broken free of land yet so we're working to that end. Full schedules, lots of boat work, piled up to-do lists all vie for our time.  Time for touch is threatened.  So do yourself a favor this Valentine's day and whether you're out cruising in some idyllic spot in the Caribbean or whether you're a cruiser-in-spirit still landlocked, go find someone you love and touch them.  It will be the best Cruising Comfort you experience.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been a bit off this past week, with a cold and a bad case of laryngitis.  That's my excuse for not remembering to take step-by-step photos of my chocolate chip cookie baking this evening, so you'll get partial step-by-step directions and I have every confidence that your cookies will turn out fantastic anyway. 

I can't seem to find an airbake cookie sheet that will fit in my boat oven, so I use a Poor Man's Airbake - Take 5 or 6 layers of aluminum foil stacked together and crumple them slightly.  Fit the crumpled layer on your cookie sheet and then top it with parchment paper. I still have to start with the cookie sheet on the bottom rack and then halfway through the time I move it to the top rack.  For more oven information you can see my Oven Basics post.   Like many of my recipes, these are very versatile and totally forgiving so experiment away! You can interchange the flours, or chips, replace part or all of the shortening with butter or peanut butter, add nuts or raisins, or even cranberries and almonds.


2/3 C butter
2/3 C shortening (or replace all or part with butter or peanut butter)
2 eggs
1 C brown sugar packed
1 C white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 C flour (white or whole wheat or any mixture of the two)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz package of dark chocolate chips (or milk chocolate if you must) or half peanut butter chips
Nuts if you want them

 Cream butter, shortening eggs, vanilla and sugars together till light and creamy. Stir together flour, soda and salt in separate bowl and then add to creamed mixture, blending just till dry ingredients are incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and stir till blended in. Don't overmix these.  Roll spoonfuls of dough into balls and place on cookie sheet prepared as above. 

Bake 10-15 minutes, rotating as necessary.  Time is impossible to dictate in boat ovens because every single one is different and you have to get to know your own.  My oven tends to run 25° cool and I absolutely have to rotate pans around to get even cooking.

It's 27° outside headed for 17° tonight, there's snow on the docks and the wind is howling at 25 gusting to 30, but inside my boat it's warm (thanks to the marvel of shore power), cozy, and the smell of melting Ghirardelli is wafting around.  It just doesn't get a whole lot better than this in Illinois in February.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Peruvian Burritos

A friend of mine who is originally from Peru used to make these burritos and send them with her husband to our mutual place of employment where we would feast on them for breakfast.  I've had many people ask me what the difference is between these burritos and Mexican burritos, but I can't exactly say.  All I can tell you is that I'll never be able to eat a regular burrito again after eating these.  They have spoiled me for life.

1-1/2 C. Jasmine rice - You can use other types but Jasmine adds a very specific flavor
3C. water
2 cans refried beans - I use fat-free because I can add more olive oil then
Olive oil to taste
1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic or equivalent minced garlic in a jar
1 can diced tomatoes - I use the fire roasted diced tomatoes in the TexMex flavor
1 C. chopped cilantro
Garlic salt, lemon pepper, cumin, oregano, jalapeƱos, diced.
30 corn tortillas
1 to 1-1/2 lbs sharp cheddar cheese, grated

In a large skillet put olive oil and heat till shimmering.  Add onions and after 3-4 minutes add garlic, seasonings and jalapenos.  Cook briefly.  Add beef and cook until brown. Add can of tomatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Add cilantro and check the seasonings to taste.  Keep warm.

Prepare rice with 3 C. water.  Steam covered until tender.  Mix 2 cans of refried beans into rice along with olive oil until creamy. Set aside.

Grate cheese.  Cut 30 squares of foil and stack on the counter. Preheat cast iron skillet over medium heat (I used a non-stick skillet here because my cast iron one was in use for another purpose at the time).  Spray with non-stick spray and place a tortilla in the skillet.  Cook for 1 minute or until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the tortilla.  Spray the tortilla with non-stick spray and turn over.  Cook for 20-30 seconds and remove to the top square of foil.
Spread a serving spoon size ball of rice/bean mixture over tortilla.

Spread a serving spoon full of meat mixture in the middle third of the tortilla.  Add a handful of shredded cheese to the top.

Place the foil square with the point facing you and the tortilla near the bottom corner.  Using the corner of the foil and your hands, fold the tortilla in half. 

Fold the two side corners in and then roll the tortilla over twice.  Place the wrapped tortillas in a baking pan and keep warm in the oven.

 Enjoy warm with sour cream.  These keep well in the refrigerator for a week but they rarely last that long.  You can reheat them in the microwave or in a 350° oven.  If you distribute the fillings carefully you can get 30 burritos although sometimes I really stuff them and only get 24. 
Hope you enjoy!