Saturday, October 20, 2012

Biscuits Supreme

These biscuits are wonderful, light, flaky biscuits that are great split with butter and honey, or as a base for biscuits and gravy, or chicken in gravy, or just about anything else you want to do with them. Since it was a chilly day today we had a crock pot of beef stew going all day and the biscuits would serve well with eggs for breakfast and then repeated with stew for dinner.


2 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk


Sift the flour, then measure it and sift it again into a large mixing bowl. Sift baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and sugar into flour. I use a mesh strainer for sifting with a wire whisk and it works great. Living on a boat means using a lot of tools for multiple purposes that they weren't necessarily intended for, and the mesh strainer is one prime example.

Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with the wire whisk until it looks like coarse cornmeal.

Add the milk and stir it quickly with a fork until it comes together into a sticky ball.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it just a couple times into a smooth ball. Press the ball flat and into a circle about 10 inches across and about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Cut it with a biscuit cutter if you have one, or you can use a tuna can with the bottom cut out, or as you see here, a cup with a hole cut in the bottom. Cut as many as you can from the original circle of dough, then knead it together and press it out again and cut some more until you've used all the dough.

I got six very large biscuits out of this recipe. Transfer the biscuits to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 450° for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. I have to start mine out on the lower rack setting and halfway through move it to the top rack so the tops will brown. They should be golden brown when done.

These keep well for a day or two if you put them in an airtight ziploc, but truthfully they rarely last that long!

It's all about the small things

It's amazing how much little things can make the difference between a boat that feels like your home and one that feels like just a boat. In an effort to heat my coffee water more efficiently and therefore save some propane, I bought a small teakettle yesterday. It's a cute little 1-1/2 quart stainless steel one with a whistle, something that is also an important safety factor as it's very easy to let a coffee pot boil over and put out the flame on a propane stove which ends up pouring gas into the boat and, you guessed it,
k-a-b-o-o-m. I used it today for the first time, a cold morning, and the Little Kettle That Could heated my water post haste and then blew its little whistle. There was an unexpected side bonus, something so incredibly wonderful and comforting about that whistle that I found myself grinning from ear to ear. I know it's silly, but it works for me.  What is it for you on your boat that makes it feel like home? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Noodles

After a warm Winter, long Spring, Summer from hell, Fall dropped on us rather abruptly. It got cold. Fast. As a result, it was the perfect weather for our Chili / Soup Cookoff, an annual affair here at Boulder Marina, and I opted for the soup entry of chicken noodle with homemade noodles. Everyone always goes crazy over homemade noodles saying how much it makes them think of their grandma. They look on them with awe and a bit of trepidation when, in reality, they're pretty easy to make. Give it a try sometime when you have an hour or two that you want to spend thinking of your grandma and her wonderful smelling kitchen.


1 cup flour
2 eggs
dash of salt (or more if you're my husband)


Each cup of flour and 2 eggs makes enough noodles for a very healthy serving for two people. The pasta is the same whether you're making thick dumpling style noodles or thin spaghetti style ones. You just roll it to the appropriate thickness for whatever you're making.

Put the flour in a big bowl. Mix in the salt if you're using it and make a well in the  middle of the mixture. Break your eggs into the well.

Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated and it forms a ball. At this point, use your hands to finish working in any stray flour. It should be a firm dough but not dry or too sticky either. You may have to add a little flour if it's extremely humid, but be careful not to add too much.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and a towel and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Do not skip this step!

If you skip this step, the dough will spring back when you try to roll it out and it will be a very frustrating experience. Maybe this is why so many people are afraid of making them?

If you made  more than one recipe (I made a triple batch), divide the dough into smaller balls that you can roll out. Here I had a triple recipe divided into 4 balls and it made about an 11 x 13 rectangle. I rolled it pretty thick for dumpling style noodles, but for most pasta it will be paper thin.

Once you get it rolled out you can cut the edges square if you want.

If you have one on board, a pizza cutter is the way to cut noodles. If not, use a very sharp knife and cut them. Remember that noodles double in size when you cook them so make them pretty thin for regular noodles. Mine are super thick for my dumpling style noodles.

You can lay them over a cooling rack suspended on some glasses, or we have this handy bulkhead by the nav station. You can even lay them on regular towels but it takes a little longer to dry than if you hang them in the air. You can dry them in the sun on a towel or cardboard as well. Be creative - even a clothesline will work great. If you're cooking them right away then you can put them straight into any boiling water or broth. Otherwise they need to dry completely to store. If you're cooking them right away, they only take a couple minutes to cook. For thin spaghetti pasta it's seriously only about 2 minutes. For these thick noodles I'll cook them in my chicken noodle soup for 10-15 minutes because they were dried. If you dry them well, they will keep for a few weeks at room temperature but they do pick up moisture so they need to be sealed in a ziploc and checked periodically. I find it's best only to make what you need at a time.

Sorry I don't have a picture of the finished soup - it was a busy day and I totally forgot!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Fingers

A friend of ours here at the marina is in the Marines and evidently they have to pass a fitness test twice a year which includes a weigh-in. Much to his dismay, he's been enjoying the marina evening life a bit too much and had put on a few pounds that he now has to shed before the test. The discussion at the Friday night get together was centered largely around healthy food, something that is an ongoing discussion at our house in the city due to the food allergies of my grandkids. As I look at the recipes on this blog, though, not very many of them are healthy food choices, something which you'll have to pardon me for if you're a Marine, but the blog title is Cruising Comforts, and in this case, comforts is the word of choice. Comfort food is a large part of my life. My grandmother was an excellent cook as were both my mother and father. Food was always an integral part of our family gatherings, and was often provided when we were sick or sad. To  this day, I can smell certain foods and be transported right back to my dad's side at our 4th of July picnic where he would be fussing over his pecan pie. I know it's not the politically correct thing to do today, but cruising can be a stressful endeavor at times and as long as it's in moderation, comfort food is very welcome at that middle of the night watch in bad weather. So with that in mind, here is the recipe for my aunt's peanut butter fingers, a cookie that was a staple on the Christmas cookie tray at the family holiday celebrations. (Pardon a few blurry pictures - the wind has been gusting to 32 here in the slip and we're rocking a rolling. Little hard to get clear pictures that way)


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 to 4 tablespoons milk


Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar, egg, peanut butter, and vanilla. As I mentioned in another post, if you don't have an electric mixer, use a potato ricer/masher. It will mix in even the coldest butter. Here's a picture of it partially mixed. You can see how it cuts the butter up. I find that the flat kind with square holes in the face works better than the kind with the S-turn wire face.

Here's the way it should look after it's mixed well.

Measure out a cup of chocolate chips from a 10 or 12 ounce bag. Set aside. Stir in flour, salt, soda and oats and remaining chocolate chips.

Spread in a greased and floured 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Take care not to overcook.

Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips on top of hot dough and return to oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and spread over top of hot dough evenly.

Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter until no lumps remain. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until you have a consistency that you can drizzle from a spoon, but not any thinner.

Drizzle over cookie mixture. Let cool and cut into 2- X 1-inch bars.

Got Milk?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Apple Dumplings

It's Fall and with the change in the calendar comes the wonderful change in the weather. It's especially meaningful to us here in the Midwest since we suffered such a brutal summer this year. My good fisherman friend Ralph, who walks the docks at the marina, also happens to own a few apple trees and was kind enough to bring me a bucket of apples last week. My daughter has been hounding me for apple dumplings so I used the apples tonight to make them. I wasn't on the boat, but rather in my kitchen at home and, to be quite honest, I didn't even think about doing a recipe post until they were all done and out of the oven. So this time all you get is the recipe and the final picture and if you have any difficulty just let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to help.


15 small apples or 12 larger ones
Juice of 2 lemons
3 recipes of pie crust (see below for the best one ever)
1 cup cinnamon sugar
1 stick of cold butter
Sauce (see below)

Peel apples and leave whole. Place in large bowl and coat with lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Set aside. Make pie crust recipes. Here is the recipe for a single crust which you need to multiply times three if you're doing all of the apples:

1-1/3 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Sift flour, measure, then sift into bowl with the salt. Add shortening and "cut" in with wire whisk until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add ice water and toss lightly with fork until it comes together in a ball. Divide into balls for how many apples you are using or use the whole crust in a pie.

Roll a pastry ball into a circle. Using one of those apple slicer/corer/wedger things, press down on apple and remove core. Place a pat of butter in the middle and cup your hands around the apple, squeezing the butter in the middle to hold it together. Place apple on crust circle and spoon in a teaspoon or two of cinnamon sugar. Wrap crust up around apple and press together. Place in a 9 x 13 pan. Repeat for all of the apples. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes.

Make sauce:
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp cinnamon.

Mix sugar and water and cinnamon and boil for 1 minute. Spoon over dumplings and return to oven for another 20 minutes or until apples are tender when tested with a sharp knife.

Spoon syrup over apples from bottom of pan and let cool slightly before serving. These are good with ice cream or in a bowl with milk.