Writing a life contains it, explains it, and offers moments to reflect. But it comes from stillness, it requires peaceful rest fostering sufficient mental energy to create. When Phillip Stark is asked how can manifest such grand creativity he remarks at all that he does not do to foster his grand imagination: TV out, movies out, social engagements out…:
Isolation + Simplicity = Creativity
My life is no longer isolated or simple which lends itself to chaos, confusion and exhaustion. Since the boat returned from the around the Canal trip, it’s been one thing after another, similar to most peoples’ hectic, hurly burly lives. I wish I could summarize all that I’ve learned so I can review later and not miss anything. I will try in bits and pieces here.Cooking Triumphs!First Place - Homemade Mayo – Since the beginning of this cooking journey I’ve attempted Homemade Mayo. People speak of it as the holy grail of cooking and I’ve repeatedly been discourage by my attempts. How can I call myself a true cook when something as seemingly simple as homemade mayo alludes me? Well, let me tell you it doesn’t anymore, thanks to the blog:
She uses a food processor and for some reason her recipe worked for me. I was so proud of myself that I walked around the kitchen thumping my chest. I had no one to share my cooking triumph with as dinner for ten needed to be on the table in five and no kindred spirit was handy. So now I now take a moment to say Whooopie!!!
Second Place – Nobu’s Black Miso Cod –
I used Sea Bass but I rocked it. It was describied as out Nobuing Nobu – the pinnacle of praise on our vessel.
Third Place - Tuna Tartar - It’s the Bomb!
Cooking Disaster –
Fresh cookies daily are a must have on our vessel. Not as daunting as it sounds as the gang loves what we refer to as the “Kitchen Sink” variety of cookie: i.e. begin with a basic recipe for Oatmeal Raisin or similar and then just throw in whatever you have on hand – toffee chips, guava, white chocolate, coconut – whatever. I usually make a tub of dough, let it soak for a good hour or two or ten and then ball it up and freeze. Everyday I grab ten balls, throw them on a sheet pan and bam! fresh cookies. The boss actually is touchingly disappointed when fresh cookies are not available and he is so nice that I feel terribly guilty when I haven’t tended to my cookie duty – this coming from someone who does not even crave cookies.
BUT when in the Bahamas and resources are somewhat scarce (really just so damn expensive you wonder how people actually raise children there) do not try to substitute instant oatmeal for the long cooking variety. Disaster!! Wasting food makes me cringe but the whole batch had to go, nothing worse then watching a big luscious batch of butter and sugar and yummy go out the door simply because the damn oatmeal was decimated by the stripping of all that is good and healthy from it so people can spend five minutes less time at their stove. BAH!
3. Cooking “Love to Learn” or “Love to Have Time To:”
a. Sharpen knives
b. How to cook with Seaweed – it’s so good for you.
c. Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, Beef Stock – actually all stock….
d. Training crew to wipe the table up after eating –
What am I their mother????
Hey guess what? I’m going to create a page with recipes. Since I’m supposed to be learning about cooking and I’m trying all kinds of things perhaps it would be helpful to share yummy discoveries? It will take me a few days to put it up but I like it. People could also email recipes they want me to try; I’ll make it and then give a review as to how it was received. The first recipe would have to be the Shrimp curry recipe I found surfing the Internet. The first time I made it I snapped a photo – it’s bleary from the humidity out on the back deck but you get the general idea.
Cooking on a boat without a broad repertoire necessitates surfing the Internet and searching cookbooks for inspiration. My criteria is simple, do I have the ingredients? Does it look interesting but not too interesting? And is it spicy? We like spicy. The Shrimp Curry was a huge hit with all the women asking for the recipe so give me a few days and I’ll post it.
Traditionally it is plated with sweet potato fries but I did not want to try the whole deep fry thing on the open ocean. Robb and I some at the Blue Bar in Harbor Island and next time I’ll take the risk. They are definitely worth it.
Harbor Island, Bahamas
Oh so pretty!! Guests arrived Saturday and we were off. We docked yesterday at Harbor Island and today no meals to prepare. There were some hateful comments this morning about my inability to do laundry but who the hell cares when I’m watching the turtles and walking on pink tinted beaches? Made luscious apricot carrot muffins this morning and last night air lifted my first chocolate souffle. Feeling loud and proud! Love you all.
When I asked people about bread making, they all responded with peshaw, who needs it? Well, when docked in the outer islands with no Central Market or Whole Foods or even a Piggly Wiggly in sight, bread is essential. I have a cookbook on making whole grain breads so I just dug in and gave it a go. This one is whole wheat bread with rum raisins and walnuts. What a revelation. It lacked sufficient salt and would benefit from a touch of molasses but otherwise it was scrumptious. I don’t even eat bread but I’ll eat this bread. Feeling loud and proud in the Bahamas outer islands.
So I’m going to serve desert. First every hostess is admonished ‘don’t serve anything you haven’t made before’. Ha!! I’d be left with canned chicken and oatmeal. So it’s into the breach lads, into the breach! The chocolate desert (there always has to be a chocolate desert) was offered by my niece Ashley Price – pictured with her proud mother above. What a wonder of chocolate with a pecan crust. Note to self, once the pecans are toasted and require cooling; don’t put them in the freezer at an angle. One side of the pan had crust the other sans crust. Oh well, when it defreezed I was able to mush it down. The filling was easy and the whole thing conveniently pops into the freeze 24 hours before the party. The instructions instruct to remove from freeze one hour before service. Well, what happens if one removes it just a tad too early, your kitchen is blazing and dinner is delayed by lack of oven space? The result? Chocolate mush. Tasty mush but still mush. Grrr!! The next desert was to be cheesecake, which I have made in the past with great success but my friend who will remain nameless suggested flan. What a great idea I thought, although I never made flan before I was ready or so I thought. First off, my nameless pal is an amazing cook and knows that when the recipe she sends reads; melt ½ c sugar on med-high heat that you are supposed to add a bit of water to make this happen. Hm? Third time was not the charm on this recipe but since I had blended the small can of condensed milk (what size is small anyway?) and the small carton of whipping cream (ditto), I poured it all on and hoped for the best. As you can imagine, it was not the best but boy we had fun trying!!
Hello gang – I wanted to pass along the menu for the dinner party for 20 on 7 Dec 07. Remember as you review that I will not be a guest as well as cook. When you throw a dinner party, there is the expectation you will want to interact and enjoy the guests. That is not my role. I’m purely kitchen help. The sauces and desserts can be created the day prior to the event, which relieves the load. Let me know your thoughts. P.S. This is the last announcement I will be sending to all as I don’t want it to become annoying. Thank you to all --
Smoked Salmon Tostada with a Chipotle Tartar Sauce
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with a tomatillo salsa
Black Bean Dip, Guacamole & Salsa with Corn Tostadas
Proscuitto Wrapped Sea Scallops with a Mango & Roasted Bell Pepper Coulis.
Chipotle Pan – BBQ Pork Tenderloin.
Corn and Anaheim Chili Pudding
Roasted Pecan Crusted Yams
Frozen Chocolate Pie with Pecan Crust ala Ashley Price
New York Cheesecake with Sweet Cherry sauce.
What green thing can I put on the buffet table?
Am I doing too much starch?
Does cheesecake really go with this menu?
Met with Charter Manager last night. That is distinct from the charter broker but for you who do not have at least $40,000 lying around to spend on vaca – do not bother. She was delightful. Of course every yachty meeting includes a bit of vino and the one we drank last evening was delightful. It is from the Klinker Brick Winery – 2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel reasonably priced at $13.99. It is a layered wine with the first notes being deep rich cherry followed by an underlay of chocolate. Absolutely exquisite.
This is a scream of desperation to all my rowdy pals who ‘really’ cook. When I say ‘really’ cook I mean they enjoy it, they work at it and other people admire their cooking finesse. My question goes to you – do you make your stock at home from scratch? You might wonder, why is my obsessive friend, obsessing about this at this moment? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s another book of course, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The book is his account of completing a portion of the classes at CIA. (for the uninitiated that’s not the CIA of covert ops but the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America). In his explanation of his mission for the book he writes, “Recipes are a dime a dozen. You could follow them for a hundred years and never learn to cook…If you didn’t know how to make a great stock, if you didn’t even know what a great stock tasted like, you were doomed to mediocrity in the kitchen, at best, and at worst, ignorant foolishness.” Hm? Perhaps I do not want to adopt his ideas of cooking into my own frame of reference but am I deluding myself? Perhaps I’m doing this all backwards, I’m cooking and trying to learn how as I go along? These are, of course, rhetorical questions as I get paid to cook and I better damn well do it says my credit card companies but do you understand? I’m sending this directly to everyone on my contact list, as I need to hear from you. Please help. And by the way, happy grateful day. Despite the distress of this particular missive, do not doubt that I realize my blessings, which are abundant. Kiss someone you love and be glad you are with them