Galley Series Part 2: Food, recipes and disasters!

This is part two of our post about cooking on the boat. It’s only taken six months for us to:

  • acclimatise to working within a confined and movable space (sorry monohull cruisers but it is still small compared to our land-kitchen and does rock n’ roll, albeit a little)
  • calculate quantities: if I want 500g minced steak, how many lbs and ozs is that?
  • appreciate different names: coriander is cilantro and very similar to shadow benny
  • make food we’ve always bought commercially, eg: yoghurt and mayo. This is for two reasons: 1) We are trying to lower our sugar and preservatives intake and both these products commercially have higher levels of sugar and additives than we need, and 2), they aren’t always available when we go shopping which can be trés frustrating!

Retirement is good – I’m enjoying the time I have to experiment in the galley even when it’s a bit rocky and rolly! Mal doesn’t do much of the cooking, except on the barbie, as his skills are better utilised elsewhere on the boat and I know I got the better deal!

Mal in action
Mal in action

One experiment has been learning to cook with new and different ingredients. A vegetable I’ve loved in local restaurants is callaloo. It’s a little like spinach and I have now made callaloo soup and callaloo fritters. Both are Mal favourites! Callaloo, also known as amaranth, is a large leafy green vegetable available readily and cheaply. You commence by washing it and then de-veining the stork from the leaf. I then slice it and saute in coconut oil with onion and garlic, always a good start! If I’m making soup I then add stock, salt and pepper and either a carrot or potato. Traditional callaloo soup includes okra but I haven’t tried this yet. When this is cooked, I remove from heat, process with a stick blender and fold through coconut milk. If I’m making the fritters, once the callaloo, onion and garlic are sauteed, I add that mixture to flour, egg, salt and pepper. Callaloo fritters often have saltfish included but I haven’t gone there yet as Mal doesn’t like it! I did add some crab meat the other day but it didn’t make a huge difference so I won’t bother next time. I’ll slip some saltfish in one day and see if he notices.

I purchased some kale the other day which was different to the type I’ve bought in Australia, but it tasted the same and my kale chips were a success! The leaves weren’t curly but more elongated and easier to work with. I ripped these into bite-size pieces, drizzled them with coconut oil and sprinkled them with sesame seeds and a spice mix of cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I then baked them until crispy and we devoured them with a Bloody Mary. Seriously good!

As you may have realised I’m hooked on coconut oil, use it in just about everything and feel very lucky that we have good locally made choices here! Superb! This graphic is obviously from the cooler climes as we don’t have to worry about coconut oil hardening here but it reflects my passion for it 🙂

10388640_715539305196500_2219424242554610827_nThis segues very nicely into one of my mishaps. Not all products are available each week at the local IGA and, of course, some products only have a certain shelf life, even fridge life. Thus, when I couldn’t get my Natural (no flavouring) yoghurt that is a must on my morning muesli, or a mayo that didn’t have a host of ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce, then it was time to have some fun! I’ve mastered the yoghurt making now which I will touch on later but the mayonnaise is where my mishap occurred. With my love for coconut oil, I gaily added it ever so slowly to the egg yolk and dijon mustard mix and it emulsified exactly as my NomNom Paleo app said it would. [See previous post for details about this app.] Everything went like a dream and I decanted it into a glass jar and immediately used it on coleslaw and it was delicious. I was so proud until I went to the fridge to spread it on my turkey wrap the next day. Hard as a rock and, of course, it separated when I warmed it albeit slightly. I then made a batch with almond oil and it worked a treat! It lasted in the fridge for a week and was so worth it. Bad luck about the coconut oil because it gave it a lovely flavour!

Breakfast is one of our favourite meals of the day and we both enjoy making chia puddings. Again, it isn’t always available so I’ve done this with sago too but I bought up big when we saw chia recently. Soak the chia overnight in coconut milk and in the morning place some in a glass, a bowl or mason jar. We use whatever fruit we have on hand so these photos show some added mango and sliced dates, topped with some shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened), more fresh fruit like bananas, passionfruit and sprinkled with pepitas and/or sunflower seeds. I also drizzle a few more drops of coconut milk over the top. It is so refreshing and has a good dose of protein to keep you going.

Speaking of breakfast, I’ve probably been making my own yoghurt now for about three months. I started off with a small amount from the commercial pot I had bought (Natural, full-fat). Mostly we use long-life milk here and I’d been advised by Nikki, from s/v Iza, that it may not work well. So I purchased full cream powdered milk, Kerry Gold from NZ, and made up a litre. I then added 4 tbsps of the yoghurt to it, poured it into clean glass jars, wrapped it in a towel and put in an insulated bag for 9 hours. I found it a little runny so I’m now adding 6 tbsps and it seems to be fine. I always make a small jar as my starter for the next batch. I’m not sure why but I really like making my own yoghurt. 🙂

Friends Gagi and Rudy tease me about how much I use coconut, either fresh, dried or oil. What can I say, I’m my mother’s daughter! Anyway, I normally add shredded coconut to muffins which I like to bake often but both Mal and I got so frustrated cleaning the tray that we decided to go silicon! Gagi wanted one too so we purchased them via Amazon – that’s another story which I won’t go into today – and we’re all super happy with the trays. They clean up beautifully and they brown the muffins, which was my major concern. Now I’m baking banana, coconut and choc chip, mango, coconut and passionfruit, and pawpaw, coconut and walnut. Delish! Whatever fruit is in season, I’m using it! I did have one minor hiccup the other day when I used fresh coconut – nothing browned and they were more like little puddings. Mal still loved them though!

Mal and I try to watch what we eat and over here we’re loving the lifestyle and the fresh, local foods we can use. We have cut down our sugar intake considerably although we didn’t add much sugar to our diets before, there’s so much hidden in products that we were taking it in unknowingly. I read the ingredients list on every product we now buy and the rule of thumb is if it has more than five ingredients, I usually don’t buy it. The arthritis in my big toe has all but gone and we’ve both dropped a size in clothing. Of course the weather and  exercise plays a part, but we both feel a whole lot better.

I modify most recipes that include sugar and I don’t use white sugar. I use Organic Coconut Palm Sugar which is still not particularly good for us but it’s better than white and some of the other substitutes. If you’re interested in finding out more about coconut sugar read this article from the I Quit Sugar team. I use their website alot. http://iquitsugar.com/whats-deal-coconut-sugar/

I’m very happy to share any recipes so just let me know in the comments section of this post or via Facebook if we’re connected there. I’m also keen to receive any good hints/recipes so please forward if you think I’d be interested. Cheers and happy eating, Sue and Mal. xx

Galley Series Part 1: Apps for the Galley

I started this post to talk about my galley experiences, specifically using apps rather than traditional cookbooks and experimenting with different foods. It soon became obvious that it was going to be a large post, even for me, so I decided to split it into two and have called it the Galley Series! Sounds pretty impressive, huh?

I love technology, especially when it makes my life easier. So, when we decided to live on a boat I decided to use apps or download e-cookbooks to my iPad, a brilliant space-saving measure! Back in Sydney, with excellent wi-fi connection, I eagerly downloaded lots of apps from some of my favourite chefs, Donna Hay, Karen Martini, Jamie Oliver, etc. and the new I Quit Sugar (IQS) e-book from Sarah Wilson. I arrived on board and was very disappointed to find some of my longed-for recipes couldn’t be accessed when we didn’t have wi-fi or if the connection was poor. So, I’ve been ruthless and only kept apps that are downloaded to my iPad and I want to share with you some that I’ve found really useful.

iCookbook (FREE): I use the Diabetic version as I was looking for low-sugar recipes but I’ve since discovered they also have iCookbook and iCookbook Gluten-Free. The link to their website is here http://icookbook.com/products/icookbook%E2%84%A2-for-ios-device/. What is particularly handy for me, and what I use 99% of the time, is My Recipe Box, a storage area in the app for my personal recipes. I find one online, cook it and, if it’s a success, I add it to My Recipe Box. I often make notes, rate the recipe for future use and email or print the recipe without needing any wi-fi connection. It works a treat!

The 2nd app is Michelle Tam’s NomNom Paleo which I absolutely love. I’m interested in Paleo and find her app beautifully designed and very practical. From memory this is around $6US. I don’t normally pay for apps but I like her recipes and think the app is gorgeous. Recipes are detailed in two different modes: step-by-step with illustrations for each step or in a recipe card style. I use the card style but can check the step-by-step illustrations if I’m unsure as to how it should appear. It’s very good and I’m pretty sure it’s won an award.  Check out her website at http://app.nomnompaleo.com/. Note: it is large so you’ll need a good connection for the initial download.

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Michelle Tam in her kitchen – cute isn’t she?

I also use apps by Karen Martini, Donna Hay’s What’s For Dinner, Clean & Green and Paleo Recipes (Australia) which are all FREE and available on my iPad without wi-fi connection, but the above two are my go-to apps.

An app I’ve found particularly helpful is Subulator and it’s FREE. Living in another country and living on a boat means you sometimes, well often actually, have to find substitute ingredients. Voila! I open my Subulator, find the required ingredient and it provides a variety of substitutes with proportions, etc. Brilliant! It hasn’t had every single ingredient I’ve wanted, but nine times out of ten it’s done the job! http://www.cakebaker.co.uk/apps-for-bakers/subulator-ultimate-food-substitutes-app/

The final app I’d like to mention is the Unit Converter shown above. This has been invaluable coming from an Aussie metric system to a mostly lbs/ozs one. We’ve also used it for other conversions on the boat, like how many litres are in a gallon? There are many out there to choose from and this one is easy to use and FREE.

So, these are the apps that I’ve found helpful when creating my culinary delights in the galley! If you have any that you would like to share with me, I’d love to hear from you.

Part 2 in The Galley Series is about some of our more successful dishes that we’ve created on board.

I hope this was helpful, Sue.