Friday, November 14

Mmmm Mmm Good

By Michael Argyelan

With Thanksgiving creeping up on us in a couple weeks, food is on my brain. I love Thanksgiving dinner. I go for an extra long run and do an extra workout the morning of to justify the extra calorie consumption. More pie? Yes please!

Equal to if not more pleasing than a plate of delicious food covered in homemade gravy is the people I share it with. Sharing a meal with friends, family, or crew alike is intensely gratifying. What might be more gratifying is eating a meal while sailing or sitting on the hook relaxing.

Fellow Crowley’s employees/boaters shared their experiences with prepping, storing, and making food while on board. If you have any food related stories, tips, tricks, etc to share, please do. I’ll post them in the next newsletter to share with everyone.

For long distance trips or weekends aboard vessels lacking electric reefers or freezers, there are some common tips to pay heed. Freeze jugs or bottles of water rather than use bags of ice. Cubes melt considerably faster than blocks of ice. Columbia Yacht Club sells blocks and half blocks of ice to its members and racers for this reason. The bonus is your jugs or bottles melt and you’ll have crisp, refreshing water for consumption. You can also use a bucket to make your own blocks. Fill it 1/3 of the way up and freeze it and you have a block of ice.

Another space saving and temperature management practice is to freeze your larger meals, which is common among long distance cruisers and racers. A roast or stew is always better the day after. The spices have time to really soak in. Heating up a chilled cabin with the fragrance of a lovingly prepared stew is all the more rewarding; especially when you’re on the night shift, it’s 3am and the temperature is 45 degrees. The taste of that roast is like finding a unicorn having a cocktail on a rainbow who’s hanging out with the Lucky Charms leprechaun; unbelievable.

Mitch Weisman, cook extraordinaire here at Crowley’s goes beyond the usual cold cut sandwiches for his crew. Each Wednesday night for beer can racing he uses the oven on board to prepare a home cooked meal. He will frequently prepare chicken legs, but sometimes he goes all out and splurges on a small pork or beef roast. The key is to prep the meal at home and then right before leaving the dock pop it into a preheated oven. According to Mitch, “Sometime before the second leg, things will start to smell good.” I’ll never forget the first time I heard Mitch announce on the race committee VHF channel, “If you smell something good, it’s Snafu.” I laughed all the way to the second mark.

For the Mac race, Mitch will often cook a ham. Once cooked, you can make sandwiches; use it in eggs for extra protein, or however one sees fit. When he had a fridge on his last boat Snafu, he had leftovers for the trip back home. The other Mitch-Mac tip is using frozen pizzas.

As the fleet moves farther north during the Mac night time temps drop quickly and warming up the cabin is always a great idea. Plus, who doesn’t want pizza in the middle of a long distance race? Mitch added that at least one person skips the pizza just to stay in their warm and cozy bunk.

Dan Bochnovic suggests that if you’re going longer distances and don’t mind the extra weight, be elaborate. Why not, right? Get everyone in the crew involved whether that means having a cooking party at home to prepare and freeze for later or bringing fresh ingredients with to make from scratch on board. Boats, food, friends, getting involved; what’s not to like?

Resident T10 addict Mike Travis prepares (or should I say consumes) stews and casseroles; staples on Mischief. Meals are prepared at home with great care, frozen, and act as ice blocks until ready to heat up on a gimbaled propane pot. They simply add a little water to steam the bag and serve up piping hot meals to the ravenous crew. An example of these magical boil/steam bags can be found here.

Protein is often necessary for athletic racers and can be difficult to come by if trying to save weight or space in the reefer. Mike and a few other long distance boaters recommend hard boiled eggs. They are easy to store in their carton, retain their temperature well, and have great protein levels. Other protein sources with easy storage are salami and other cured meats, nuts, and if you’re a protein crazed person, add in a little protein powder to a bowl of oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal, it’s one the easiest, lightest, most powerful sources of energy on the boat. Of course this takes fuel to heat up but a hot meal early in the morning is wonderful. Skip the protein bar and treat yourself and your crew to a hot meal. Other great ways to save weight and space are to carry powdered drinks like Gatorade rather than a bunch of packaged bottles, instant coffee such as Via by Starbucks (it’s not that bad), trail mix with extra M&Ms, and any other candy you can fit. If you’re a coffee lover but typically drink fancy mocha type drinks, brew your coffee and then add in a package of hot chocolate. It’s a poor mans mocha. It’s also delicious.

Another great tip is to keep ginger products on board. You never know when a new guest will start feeling a little queasy. A sip or two of ginger ale will do the trick. Bruce Rosenzweig of Sailboat Sales keeps ginger snap cookies on board for this very reason. Mike Travis does as well. I typically keep ginger ale on board because it also mixes exceptionally well with bourbon and rum!

Andrew Spaulding shared some lesser known tricks. If you want to bring fruits and vegetables on your cruise or long distance race wash them in a sanitizing solution to kill surface bacteria, which contributes to rotting. Use approximately 1 teaspoon of bleach to a gallon of water for a homemade solution. Use a measuring teaspoon, not the one you eat cereal with, folks. Your fruits and veggies will last longer in or out of the fridge.

If you want to bring fresh eggs, try going to a farmer or farmer’s market to purchase eggs with a fresh bloom on them. The natural coating keeps eggs fresh out of the fridge. Most other countries don’t refrigerate their eggs and this is why. You can coat them with Vaseline and they will last for months, not that many of us will be at sea that long, but it’s a pretty cool trick. If you do, flip the eggs over ever week or so to keep the yolk from settling on the bottom.

Another tip from Andrew is to never bring food boxes, aka cardboard, on the boat. This is especially true in tropical and sub-tropical climates as roaches lay eggs in cardboard! Many Caribbean cruisers and global cruisers are very aware of this age old trick. It’s not a bad practice here in the northern climates either as it saves space, weight, and you’ll have less garbage on board after consuming the contents.

Some of you may be asking, what about booze? I get that. I do. I’ve learned to enjoy sipping bourbon, whiskey, or rum and to just add a bit of ice. Who needs a mixer? If you’re a vodka consumer, a small bottle of Vermouth and a few olives are lighter and take up less room than soda water or other mixer. Some racers will even ditch the bottles and use plastic hanging bags. They won’t crack open in waves, save weight, and as the levels get lower and lower you can compress the air out for space savings.

Of course if you’re like me and on the Bi-State, forget it all and bring everything. Bring the pork tenderloin, the grill, extra beer, all the mixers, extra blankets, pillows, and whatever else makes your boating adventure more fun for everyone. After all, boating is about fun.

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