Provisioning to go to the South Pacific not only involves buying as much as you can of the things you might want during the next six months, but also of buying and preparing good, healthy, easy to serve meals to get you through the month-long passage. Many cruising cookbooks exist to advise the passage-maker on how much to buy, how to store it and how to cook it, all of which depend on what your budget is, what your refrigeration/freezing capacity is, and what country you are leaving from.
Tackless II's budget when it comes to food has much wider boundaries than many. We also have a lot more refrigeration than many. Indeed, Tackless II not only has her energy-efficient Minus 40 chest-type freezer, but she has her original freezer box under the fridge. We replaced this latter unit our first year out with the Minus 40, because, with its front opening doors, it was not very efficient. Also, the frozen food usually fell out when I opened the door making it a big chore to get anything out of it. Running all three refrigeration units is a power extravagance, so usually we just leave this lower unit turned off. Even off, it gets some coolness that travels downward from the upper fridge, so normally we use it to store things like condiments and cabbage. But for the passage that extra box gave us more options.
What country you are coming from obviously determines the kinds of provisions you have access to. Although Mexico has more and more US products showing up on the shelves, there are still great gaps, particularly in the canned prepared foods so popular with many of the traditional cruising cookbooks. Then there are quirks. Whole wheat flour, for example, which was plentiful in Mazatlán (where I put off buying it), was non-existent in Puerto Vallarta the month I was provisioning. On the other hand, PV has so many gringos around, that there are several stores that import US exotica, like chocolate chips. The other aspect of the country of departure is of course all those foods you now consider essential, like tortillas, which you will now have to make yourself once the store-bought ones are gone. This leads to masa flour, shortening (should be lard!) and a tortilla press.
And so the shopping carts fills?with basics like pasta, beans and canned tomatoes, and treats like Pringles, nuts and Chips Ahoy Deluxe.
For the passage, many crews prepared meals ahead that could be just reheated on those days when the galley would be jumping out from under your feet. These meals were portioned out and vacuum-sealed. Thank God, we had bought the new super deluxe model Food Saver over Christmas (see www.foodsaver.com ). I REALLY recommend this top of the line unit. It got quite the workout, not just with the prepared meals, but with all the meats and dry stores we stocked up on. My original, budget model would not have stood up to the job!
Since Tackless II had that spare freezer, I cajoled Don into firing it up ?for the passage.? I promised to fill it solely with prepared meals, so that it could be shut down as soon as possible. Since I filled it up, ?as soon as possible? didn't come until were all the way across to the Marquesas. Admittedly this did put a huge burden on our electrical resources. With the cloudy weather, our solar panels were unable to keep up with the draw, so we were forced to burn about 60 gallons of diesel on generator time. This did not make Don happy?On the other hand, the meals invariably did! A Catch 22.
The recipes I chose to make ahead were all in what we call the ?comfort food? category, that is, warm and gooey and familiar. By and large, none of them could be considered diet food! I roasted a whole turkey in Mazatlan in my friend Sally's kitchen, and it went into four pouches of Divine Turkey Tettrazini, (which is a hybrid of Turkey Divan and Turkey Tettrazzinni) as well as small package of meat for lunches. I also cooked up three Italian meatloaves, which cut in half made six meals; a pan of my friend Judy's tasty Mexican stand-by Crepes Ensenada made three dinners; and a huge pot of Ratatouille proved a yummy topping for pasta and a great way to preserve vegetables. I also cheated and bought two boxes of Michael Angelo's pre-made vegetable lasagna from Walmart, along with a half dozen bags of frozen vegetables, some beef, pork loin chops and two bags of Tyson chicken breasts, one of which was pre-cooked. I know I also brought home and froze a kilo of pork carnitas, but I haven't unearthed them yet!
For fresh vegetables we loaded up with lots of lots of onions, potatoes, cabbages (with their outer leaves still on ? they fairly well out of the fridge), tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, scallions, limes, green bananas, and papayas from a vegetable wholesaler inland from Sam's. From Sam's, I bought a bag of colorful peppers, and a box of what I fondly refer to as designer lettuce (gourmet mixed greens). And from Walmart, baby carrots, ginger, more broccoli, cauliflower, apples and pears. I bought all this before we left the marina, plus we made a follow-up run in from Punta de Mita after we sat waiting for wind for a week. The perishables went into green Evert Fresh bags, the onions, potatoes and cabbages went into large straw baskets, and the tomatoes, bought unripe were set out to ripen slowly.
My vegetable endeavors were a mixed success. The pre-washed mesclun mix was alot and pricey, but in the Evert Fresh bag it lasted to the last leaf. Better than a head of romaine. Sam's peppers did well too, thanks to whatever mystery preservative they put in, I imagine, and the stuff from Walmart did surprisingly well, too. My potatoes, on the other hand, rotted almost immediately, a real shock, and the onions had some bad ones after a few weeks when I got careless on my culling. Two cabbages did pretty well, but the last one went bad. I had some tomatoes go bad, but most did fine, and everything else, packed in the fridge in Evert Fresh bags lasted till they were eaten! I am now a believer in Evert Fresh (I had been skeptical before), but I was surprised the supermarket produce did as well or better than the fresh. I still don't undersand the demise of the potatoes, stored where I usually sote potatoes. Fortunately I also bought instnt potato flakes, something I have never used before. I am a new believer.
One final note, many of the passagemaking boats made the trip without any freezer at all. We've known several to do it with no fridge at all. We recognize that having a freezer is a luxury. Having a fridge even. But neither was anything we would have wanted to do without.
Divine Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Tetrazzini was my mother's fail-safe party dish. I always wondered if guests noticed its repeat performances. It was, however, so out of the ordinary for her usual cooking style and prepared so lavishly and carefully, that I certainly never regretted seeing it. With all the cream it is a little out of fashion these days, but, boy, is it good to the tummy the sun sets and night watch looms.. Normally this is cooked all in one as a casserole. For passage, I added the steamed broccoli of Turkey Divan and, to save space in the freezer, I withheld the pasta, almonds and parmesan until serving.
4 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
Steam the broccoli florets for about 5 minutes until bright green. Then cool the florets quickly with cool water. Set aside
Sauté the mushrooms in the 1½ Tb butter also about five minutes. Set aside.
Make the cream sauce by melting the rest of the butter in a pan, then stirring in the ½ cup flour. Whisk the roux constantly over medium-low heat for about a minute, taking care not to let it burn, then add 2 cups of chicken stock, whisking all the while until smooth. Blend in the cream, and continue whisking until smooth and thickened about one or two minutes.
Stir in the sherry, add the turkey and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Fold in the broccoli and the mushrooms.
For passage food, stop here. Divide the mixture by the number of meals/servings you need, vacuum seal and freeze. To complete the dish when serving, cook pasta according to package instructions, reheat thawed creamed turkey, and serve the turkey on top of the pasta, topped with parmesan cheese and almonds.
To finish as a casserole: Sir the cooked pasta into the creamed turkey along with the slivered almonds. Turn it into a casserole dish and top with the parmesan cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven until sauce is bubbly and the cheese has turned golden.
My eldest sister passed this recipe on to my mother centuries ago. The original recipe calls for rye bread, but it is very forgiving an ingredient since I haven't had rye bread on hand in years. I have used white or wheat bread and even tortillas instead and simply added a tablespoon of caraway seeds! I have never had a meatloaf I have liked better.
4 slices of bread
Soak bread in a bowl with one cup water. When bread has soaked up most of the water, squeeze it out gently.
Combine bread with onion, beef, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, caraway seeds, egg, salt and pepper, and mix together. I use my hands, but don't over mix.
Place into a greased loaf pan and dot the top with the butter bits.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Remove, pour on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with oregano and cheese and bake another 20 minutes.
Judy Knape brought this dish to Whisper's charter menu when she came aboard as chef in 1994, and it has been a standby for us ever since. I used to razz Judy because she always made a whole pan of it, not wanting to waste the tortillas?the tortillas being the least expensive of the ingredients! Before Don and I were even dating, he would regularly meet us at the dock as we came in from charter in hopes of getting some leftovers from the charter week. On 24-hour turnarounds, he lucked out. He became very fond of Crepes Ensenada . Once, in a crunch for an hors d'oeuvre, Judy and I popped a couple of leftover Crepes Ensenada into the food processor, whizzed it up, and served it hot with tortilla chips. People were begging for the recipe (kept secret until now!) The 2Cs served Crepes Ensenada to the pilot and crew when Tackless II transited the Panama Canal .
Flour tortillas, 2 per person + how many you want for leftovers!
Cut the turkey breast into rectangular ?logs? about the width of your tortillas. One log per tortilla.
Do the same for the cheese. You will need one ?log? of each type of cheese per tortilla, and one strip of cheese to top each enchilada.
Cut the chilis into long strips. I usually use two per tortilla.
Spray the bottom of a baking pan with Pam. Pour in ½ the enchilada sauce to coat the bottom.
For each tortilla, place one turkey log, one each of the cheese logs, and two strips of green chili. Roll tightly and place in baking pan. (Hint: if tortillas feel stiff, you can heat them in a cloth towel with a few crops of water for just a few seconds in the microwave wrapped and they will become pliable.)
When the pan is full (or you are out of tortillas!), spread the rolls with the remaining enchilada sauce and distribute the can of chopped tomatoes with green chili on top of that, then decorate the top with whatever cheese you have left (I usually put a thin strip of cheese on top of each roll up.)
Bake for about a half hour until cheese is melted and the sauce bubbly.
Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado or cilantro sprig.
I love ratatouille ? hot, cold, as an omelet stuffing or on top of pasta. I used to just follow the Joy Of Cooking recipe, but I like the different colored peppers and the addition of some spaghetti sauce (preferably some you have left over) sweetens and smoothes the mix out a bit. This is a great way to preserve vegetables for the end of a long passage. I found that it froze well
1 eggplant, peeled and diced
Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until slightly softened. Add the peppers and the garlic and cook another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Break up the canned tomatoes (I do it by squeezing them through my fingers and add the tomatoes to the onions and peppers. Stir in the thyme and bay leave. Reduce heat to low and cook for five minutes.
Mix in the eggplant zucchini mixture and cook for another 20 minutes. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.