Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Bug, An Endless List, Recipes, and the Wringer

February 9 - 22

Owen ached all over, was weary. He took afternoon naps and ran a low fever in the evenings. He was totally out of it for 4 days with a new flu. Another New Zealand bug, we have had more bugs run through the boat here than anywhere since Mexico. He got it, I got it - fever for 5 nights, then Griffyn got it (and wore us all out - he was so needy). Tamsyn had it for  a day. It was hard to tell she was sick. Needless to say, Owen didn't get much done on his long list of things that needed fixing (while we are in New Zealand). 

A number of port gaskets have failed and need to be replaced. The number of ports we can open (with out losing a gasket or risking a major port leak) has dwindled considerably since we first replaced all the gaskets in Mexico. The salt water pump in the kitchen leaks - on to the countertop - not serious but annoying. Neither the forward hatch over the V-berth nor the butterfly hatch over the salon are water tight, both need some repair. When it rains heavily, there are still drips from ports, hatches, and other mystery leaks in the deck that need to be discovered and caulked. There is a hole in a cockpit scupper large enough to fit Owen's pinky finger (it's just above the quarter berth where Tamsyn sleeps) that needs to be stopped up and caulked. 

The aluminum pedestal base which holds up our steel steering column is cracked and disintegrating so badly that it must be fixed (we wouldn't be able to steer the boat with the wheel!) - a high priority before further travel. Our refer doesn't work and is a huge enclosed, and empty, mildew ridden space in our tiny galley. The refer uses 4-6 amps per hour when running to keep things cold, that is a lot of power even with our 4 large solar panels, so we debate the need of a frig as we continue to discover more and more foods that do not need to be refrigerated in this cool NZ summer. None-the-less it is on Owen's list. (We do miss fresh meat, we cannot store it and rarely get to a grocery store with a butcher.) A local fisherman has shared his catch a couple of times. We've eaten shark (no bones!) and a less tasty fish. 

There is a tiny crack in a stainless steel tang (part of our rig in the bow) that must be welded - another high priority before we depart NZ. First we have to lift up the roller furler to get at the tang. Our fresh water tank is so full of sediment that when Owen changed the Seagull filter for our fresh water pump, it completely clogged up within two weeks (it should last a year.) We need to clean the tank - a two person job which must be done by hand with hand made tools near a dock with lots of fresh water. 

We have an electrical problem near the head bulkhead that is seeping deeper into the cabin electrical system. Our radio/CD player comes on mysteriously whenever it wants to as if it were alive (which burns through our power.) We would love the use of the radio again some day. It's on the list. I would love to get the vacuum cleaner fixed so we wouldn't have to sweep the rug daily (our whole cabin is carpeted in an old but well made custom rug, the bottom of which is disintegrating.) Every time we sweep, we probably inhale a tiny bit of old carpet in addition to all the other dirt that we walk in. This repair job is not on Owen's list - after all we have a whisk broom, dust pan and a small boy who needs daily chores to earn his allowance. 

In March marina moorage rates go down (high season is over), so we will move into a slip and get these big high priority jobs done. We have a lot to do before we sail far from land with skilled labor, handy marine supply stores, and a multitude of knowledgable cruisers. And we would love to see South Island before we leave. But that would be an expensive trip in an expensive country (and we may not get to see the "Lord of the Rings" landscape in person or penguins.)

We do read a lot when we are sick. Tamsyn is reading Harry Potter on the kindle, (we have all of 'em.) Owen and I are reading our way through all the paper backs we pick up at the launderette (where there is a free box - which we visit EVERY time we are onshore. Lots of goodies there!)  Larry McMurtry's "Texasville" is hilarious and well written, I laughed 'til I cried with that one.  "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl" by Fannie Flag is insightful, well written - another good read - to name a few. And we've read about the last royal wedding (Prince William to Kate - 'the commoner' - she's a bloody rich commoner though). Being in a British Commonwealth country, there is a lot of coverage of the royals (and the Kiwi's who were lucky enough to be invited to Westminster Abbey.) We watch more movies, the sickest person chooses. We cannot rent movies here, everything is in PAL (a different format than VHS / DVD). But we have plenty on board. We eat comforting foods. We make quick meals and fresh green salads. We eat a lot of rice and it's pretty dull so I've been working on making it tastier over the past year and I have finally perfected it. 

Coconut Curry Rice

1 1/4 cups white Rice
165 mL Coconut Cream (coconut milk is less rich)
1 1/2 tsp. Curry powder
1 Chicken stock cube (if substituting bullion - omit salt)
1/4 tsp. Anise seed
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. dried Parsley
2 tsp. Oil (not Olive Oil)
salt to taste (if using bullion - omit)

Pour the coconut cream into a large measuring cup, then fill it with water up to 2 1/2 cups. Pour the mixture into a sauce pan and add all ingredients except rice. Turn on the heat and stir well as it comes to a boil. Try to break up the stock cube and help it dissolve. Add rice when the water boils. Stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes (or as long as recommended for the rice you have). Taste for saltiness before serving.

We eat a lot of beans too. Here's our two favorite beans recipes. 

Tuscan Beans in a Pressure Cooker

1 cup dried Cannelini Beans
1 splash Champagne (about 1/4 c.) - my birthday party left overs
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Chicken stock cube
liberal sprinkle of Tarragon (dried)
6 Black Peppercorns
salt (maybe)

Bring dried beans to a boil in a pressure cooker, covered but not under pressure, in at least 4 times as much water as beans. Boil 5 minutes.  Leave the lid on and let them soak for at least 4 hours. Drain beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and water to cover well. Pressure cook until the beans are tender. Depending on how old the beans are - about 12 minutes in high pressure (15 lbs./inch). If the beans are tender but there is too much liquid, reduce the liquid by cooking them with the lid off. Taste to see if they need salt. Serve warm.

Vegetarian Baked Beans in a Pressure Cooker

1 1/2 cups dried Navy Beans (Boil 5 min., covered, and soak overnight)
2 Tbsp. Molasses
1 Tbsp. Oil
2 tsp. Cider Vinegar
1 Bay leaf
1 heaping tsp. Dijon Mustard (Maille brand is the best - it's French but worth it)
2 circular squirts of Ketchup (squirt continuously in a large circle into the pressure cooker)
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Beef stock cube
1 Onion, quartered
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
2 drops Tobasco
hot Water

Drain the soaked beans. Put beans into a pressure cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. Cook under high pressure until beans are tender (generally 20-30 minutes depending on the age of the beans, the amount of water and the lbs./inch of your pressure cooker.) We are not vegetarians - if you have bacon or salt pork, by all means add it and omit the oil. We rarely have fresh meat at hand, thus the "vegetarian" beans.

Another favorite of mine is Kasha, cooked buckwheat groats. Buckwheat is a very hearty grain - good for chilly weather and endurance. My favorite pancakes have buckwheat flour.
Try this when you have some Tahini on hand.

Kasha with String Beans and Sauce Istanbul (serves 4)

1 cup Buckwheat Groats 1/3 cup Tahini
2 scant cups Water 1/3 cup cold Water
pinch Salt 1 Tbsp. Tamari (or Soy sauce)
1/2 lb. String Beans

Dry roast the buckwheat groats, stirring often, until they smell roasted. A cast iron pan works well. Sometimes they will pop in the pan. If you cannot dry roast them - that's ok, they will still taste great. Bring salted water to a rolling boil and add the buckwheat groats. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook 15 minutes. While they simmer, simmer the washed and halved string beans in water for 8 minutes. While the beans cook, make the sauce. Put the Tahini and Tamari together a small bowl, stir well - it will thicken to a paste. Add the cold water a little at a time, stirring thoroughly between each addition. Serve the hot Kasha on a plate add a layer of string beans, then pour the sauce Istanbul over both and eat. Delicious!

A quick salad dressing for a simple green salad (side salads for 4)

In a large serving bowl add the following: 

cover the bottom of the bowl with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 1/4 inch thick)
pour in Cider Vinegar - make a circle 1/4 the size of the oil
add a small blob of honey (about a heaping tsp.)
add ground black pepper
add salt (1/2 tsp.)
add an herb (oregano or marjoram or basil) about 1 Tbsp., dried
Stir with a fork until thick, then swirl around the bowl.
Then add your washed ripped greens.
Then add what ever else you have on hand - craisins, chopped nuts, shredded carrot, chopped tomatoes, etc.. 
Toss well and eat instantly.

Our new Wringer

Why do we wear clothes? I suppose it's because it is so chilly here. Our laundry pile (we named it spencer because it seems to be alive) grows much quicker than it did in the tropics. And I seem to have a knack for picking the windiest days to do laundry. We would do it onshore, but at $8-10 per load, we have decided to do it on the boat. Water is free here and labor is cheap (me, Tamsyn and Griffyn). On windy days, it is much harder on your body to squat next to an eight gallon plastic tub and yank a load of wet soapy clothing around in cold water until it seems washed. 

The washing tub with a wringer attached, sits on deck near the mast. There is no protection from the elements. It requires three people to operate. It doesn't fit in the cockpit, in the shade, out of the wind. It needs to be near the 5 gallon gerry cans of fresh water, which live on the rail. So we sit around the tub as I feed clothes through the wringer. Chilling winds howl and ultra violet rays of sunshine above thinning ozone burn skin quicker than anywhere on earth - sunscreen and wide brimmed hats tied on help some. Griffyn turns the handle (turning the rollers) and Tamsyn catches the clothes as they come through. If Griffyn turns the handle too quickly or unexpectedly my finger tips get caught in the rollers, I yell out ,"Please - watch what I am doing! Don't turn the handle too fast." If Tamsyn misses the beginning of a pair of underwear as it comes through the rollers, it will go around again and Griffyn has to back it out and give her another chance to grab it. If he turns too quick she'll get her fingers pinched - and screech. 

We have had the wringer now for about a month and the kids are beginning to understand that we must all work together, not to hurt each other. We wring each load three times (wash and two rinses). Then I hang the clothes. We have strung lines all over, from shroud to shroud, from inner stay to shroud, from shroud to boom gallows. If it is super windy, I only hang clothes low, along the life lines, which limits what can be washed that day (no sheets). So far we've only lost one pillowcase to the wind in NZ - and many a clothespin. Both Tamsyn and Griffyn cried loud and long when that pathetic old pillowcase floated under (I wasn't diving for it). Both kids have difficulty letting go of anything. I gather it is because they each have so little on the boat that everything seems more precious. In Tonga, Bora Bora, Tahiti (warmer water) I dove for things that fell- but it is cold water here and murky with big fish swimming underneath.

Carrie signing off.

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