Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

For the week we were berthed in Horta Marina in the Azores, Jenny and I were dock sisters. It was a special name we gave ourselves although we would have welcomed anyone into our sisterhood. It wasn't an instant bond. Our husbands did the initial greetings on our arrival, comparing passages, boat and marina information. John mentioned to me that Jenny, our neighbor on the yacht Pluto, seemed very nice and friendly. He wondered about her accent and frequently told me tidbits on what she was wearing and doing. I wasn't interested, I was too busy.

One afternoon as I stepped off Mahina I remembered that John had said something about Jenny painting. I glanced across to Pluto's cockpit and caught Jenny's eye, she beamed a huge smile before she dipped her brush into paint and worked it onto a large canvas.
"What are you painting?" I asked.
"Oh, a friend's baby. I started it while we were in a restaurant having lunch today. But the restaurant colors were really dark and the baby woke up. The whole picture now looks rather angry. Do you want a cup of tea?" finished Jenny in the same breath.

I was instantly captivated by Jenny's engaging personality. Her voice held a sing song mix of a South African clip with the polish of an English education and her eyes sparkled with a mischievous glint. Her comment had left me with a mix of emotions; homesick for a leisurely restaurant lunch with friends and their children, a wish for the talent to capture that moment and a free afternoon to sit with Jenny over a pot of tea. "I must go finish up errands, perhaps another time" I quickly replied.

Our friendship soon bonded when I arrived back at the dock to find Jenny happily singing and playing the guitar. She said she'd given up on making dinner; it wasn't working out right and as Lulu, her husband, was part French he was rather hard to please when it came to meals.
"Do you play?" asked Jenny.
"No I don't, but I dance" I replied.
"Well let's see what we can do together" exclaimed Jenny.
And so we set about getting to know each other; swapping dance steps, songs and future plans.

Jenny and I proved that sharing a dock can be very social if you choose. We did a lot of borrowing and trading of items, both eager for creative ideas. As I'm in always in search for new recipes I asked Jenny if she had any favorites. She claimed she was dreadful cook and was even thrown out of domestic science in school because she was too absent minded. She handed over a red school notebook that was ancient. Inside was mix of recipes. Some were hand written, others torn from magazines but the majority were old typewritten and glued in. Someone had ticked nearly all the recipes and I wondered if they were ones Jenny and tried and liked. I was too afraid to ask, the book seemed rather private.

Cooking in Pluto's galley frustrated Jenny and most days she'd appear on deck with all the dinner dishes so she could wash them down with the dock hose, rather than use the galley hand pump. It was a social time as anyone passing by would stop for a chat. I'd always ask what she'd be cooking and so secretly gained another recipe. But although Jenny might claim to be a bad cook she definitely baked some lovely deserts and cakes of which we'd secretly share hot pieces - dock sister time.

Friendships are special and worth remembering so here are four dock sister recipes courtesy of Jenny.

Orange or Lemon Cake
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup raw brown sugar
  • grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • ¼ raw sugar

    Grease loaf tin. Heat butter and 1 cup sugar until butter is melts. Take butter off heat and stir in lemon rind. Whisk eggs and stir into sugar mixture. Fold in flour and turn mixture into tin. Bake 350 for about 35 minutes. Warm remaining ¼ sugar with lemon juice. Prick cake over with a fork and spoon over syrup.

Lime and Passion Fruit Posset
Jenny mentioned that this basic recipe dates back to Elizabethan England and was served as a curdled milk drink for ailments. She's tried many variations using different fruits and especially likes this zingy mix of limes and passion fruit.
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • juice and finely grated rind of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons sweet wine or sherry
  • 5 passion fruit
  • almond biscuits - to serve

    In a heavy saucepan heat cream and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat for 5 minutes being careful not to burn the bottom of the cream. Remove from the heat and beat vigorously for 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and rind together with the wine and beat another 2 minutes. Chill for 1 hour or until beginning to set then roughly fold in the pulp of 4 passion fruit. Divide the mixture between four glass dishes and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Just before serving drizzle the seeds of the remaining passion fruit over the top to the possets.

Warm Plums in Wine
  • 2 lb plums
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups tawny port, dry sherry or Madeira wine
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds

    Dissolve sugar in ½ pint if water, simmer 10 minutes. Stir in wine and bring syrup to simmering point again. Add plums one at a time to syrup. Cover pan with lid and remove form heat. Leave 10 minutes. Lift out plums and place on serving dish. Cover and leave in warm place. Boil syrup over high heat until reduced by one-third and thickened. Pour over plums. Mean while toast almonds for about 5 minutes until golden, scatter over plums and serve at once with crème fraiche.

Hearty Minestrone
This dish one of Jenny's favorites as it's possible to add seasonal vegetables from Horta's growers market. If pancetta, an unsmoked seasoned bacon, is unavailable from the butchers she substitutes a slab of local bacon, first simmering it in water for 5 minutes to remove the salt.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta - cut into bite size cubes
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 1 celery rib with leaves - thickly sliced
  • 1 carrot - thickly sliced
  • 2 zucchini - sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves - chopped
  • 2½ cups diced savoy cabbage
  • 1 lb tomatoes - peeled, seeded and cubed
  • a few fresh basil leaves or a spoon of pesto
  • 2 cups water
  • 1¾ cups vegetable, beef or chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can cannelloni (white kidney) beans - drained
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat leaved parsley
  • grated Romano cheese to garnish

    In a large pot heat oil, add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add the following ingredients in order, cooking each for 1 minute before adding the next: onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, garlic, and cabbage. Add the tomatoes and basil then bring to a simmer. Stir in water, stock, wine, salt, cloves and pepper. Reduce to a low heat and simmer 40 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Stir in beans and cook 5 minutes. Stir balsamic vinegar. Serve each bowl sprinkled with parsley and Romano cheese.

The directions read
"There are two routes to Piedade at the south tip of Pico Island - I like going along the south coast through Lajes de Pico, then through two of my favorite villages; Santa Cruz das Ribeiras and Calheata de Nesquim - lovely little ports if you wind down the hill to the water. Then continuing on to Piedade, where you take the right road at the small town's center bandstand towards the ocean. After passing the church go 1.4 km, turn left at the village water tap, you have arrived at L'Escale de L'Altantic - Steps of the Atlantic."

All had gone according to the itinerary. We'd visited the historic whale museum after a tasty omelet and salad lunch in the town of Lajes, and the ports of Santa Cruz and Nesquim were especially picturesque each being situated at the bottom of very steep hills away from the main road. But as we approached the town of Piedade it was getting dark and really starting to rain hard.

With no one around to ask for directions I began navigating by the seat of pants. After passing the church the hill grew extremely step and I panicked realizing that if I'd chosen the wrong road or calculated beyond 1.4 km it would be a long dark push back up the hill on our bicycles and perhaps our room at L'Escale would be sold, as we were very late in arriving.

And there it was, the ceramic tiled village tap behind which was situated the welcoming sight of a charming crisp white veranda building with orange tiled roof, set amongst a traditional lava walled vineyard. We cycled up to the bright blue picket gate and rang the bell mounted by the hand painted L'Escale sign. Monique and Jacque instantly appeared followed by two friendly kittens. "Welcome, welcome" they said. "You must be the sailing people but we didn't realize you would be arriving by bicycle!"

We were shown to delightful room situated on the veranda. The view was over the lush well-tended flowered garden and the vineyard framed the blue ocean beyond while the island of Sao Jorge edged the distance horizon with deep green. Tea and cake were ready for us on the veranda and we were soon relaxing and chatting, enjoying the early evening atmosphere.

Jacque and Monique established L'Escale 14 years ago after leaving hectic careers in Switzerland. They wished for a lifestyle closer to the land and have created a wonderful oasis complete with gardens, ponds, orchards, a vineyard and free range fowl. They don't even own a car so all of the local venders such as the baker, milkman, fisherman and butcher deliver to the house. Although they've stepped away from the rat race both Jacque and Monique emanate a very friendly polished grace and their creative talents radiate in everything from the many artistic mosaic garden stepping stones to their cooking.

Ah, the meals. It would be hard not to rave about the delightful food we were served during our getaway. It was not a feature we had even considered when a friend mentioned we might like to stay here. Each dish we were served contained such intriguing tastes and stories that we were always captivated. I certainly have admiration for Jacques and Monique's nurturing of the land into creating meals from their garden, plus their joy of being part of a small established community. I'll be sure to visit again and in the meantime I'll try my hand at these recipes inspired by L'Escale de L'Atlantic.

Banana Creole Preserve
  • 3 ½ lb bananas
  • 3 limes or 2 lemons - juice and rind
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 ½ cups powered sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup rum

    Cut the bananas and boil in water 1 minute, drain. Peel limes with no pith, julienne rind and boil 2 minutes in ¼ cup water, drain. Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, add lime rind, lime juice, bananas and cinnamon. Simmer 15 minutes, remove add rum, stir well then place in sterile jars. Serve with cheese and crackers or breakfast scones

Roasted Mushrooms Salad with Pine Nut Dressing
  • 2 lb large field mushrooms
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch dried oregano
  • ½ red onion - sliced into rings
  • 6 handfuls salad greens
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine olive oil, lemon juice and oregano and pour over mushrooms. Roast mushrooms on a baking tray for 10 minutes. Toss onions and salad greens, scatter with mushrooms and cheese. Serve with pine nut dressing. Serves 6

Pine Nut Dressing
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chilled water

    Process pine nuts, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. With motor running slowly drizzle in the olive oil then chilled water. Store covered in the refrigerator until needed.
Roast Pork Stuffed with Apricots and Prunes
  • 1 3 lb pork loin - tied in a round for stuffing
  • 1 ½ cups white wine
  • 20 dried pitted prunes
  • 12 dried apricot halves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons currant jelly
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons flour combined with 4 tablespoons butter

    Soak prunes in wine 1 hour, reserve wine. Stuff pork, alternating prunes with apricots, reserve leftover fruit. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat butter and oil in skillet, brown roast on all sides. Warm brandy and pour over roast, ignite and allow flame to subside. Place roast in roasting pan, roast uncovered for 1 ½ hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine stock with remaining wine, cream and jelly in a saucepan. Reduce by 1/3 over high heat, add remaining fruit. Degrease pan juices from roast, then add a little prepared sauce. Return pan juices to saucepan, add orange juice, salt and pepper. Whisk flour and butter mixture into sauce to thicken. Simmer 3 minutes. Do not let it boil. Carve roast and serve with sauce. Serves 8.

Pears with Honey and Parmesan
  • 6 pears
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • savings of Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground white pepper - to taste

    Preheat broiler. Peel, halve and core pears, leaving stems intact. Score the uncut side of each pear half and place on a baking tray cut side down. Pour honey over pears, top with Parmesan and a sprinkling of pepper. Grill pears until they are lightly browned and the cheese has melted. Serve immediately with crème fraiche and toasted pecans.

When returning from our early morning run in the town of Lajes in the Azores John and I noticed a new boat had anchored beside Mahina Tiare. They'd chosen a good spot in the crowded anchorage, leaving the right amount swinging room and marking their anchor with a bright orange buoy. She was a smart 35 foot traditional wooden sloop with white topside, bright blue coach roof and the name Acquest in royal blue on the cockpit spray cloths. As we zipped by in the dinghy we were impressed to see a woman in her mid sixties swimming off the stern in the chilly water. "Where did you sail from?” asked John.

A head popped over the spray cloth. "Just finished an overnighter from Horta,” replied the handsome grey haired chap in a distinct BBC voice.

"Well here's a couple of a hot bread rolls fresh from the baker, for your lunch,” said John "Thank you,” the couple chimed.

We'd just met Judy and Jake from Falmouth, England and over the next few weeks we were to share more harbors, becoming fast friends. Jake had sailed Acquest to the Azores with friends, who then flew home. His summer project was to update the RCC Atlantic Islands Cruising Guide and his charming wife Judy had flown in to join him.

Our next anchorage together was the remote small village of Faja Grande on the east coast of Flores Island and we invited Judy and Jake to join us and our crew for dinner at the village restaurant. I soon discovered that Judy and I shared a love of Irish music and sewing. Judy had been a clothes and fabric designer in London but was now more interested in crafting recycled items. She was knitting a hammock out of plastic shopping bags, acquiring bags from people she met. That night as I handed Judy a bag from the Cook Islands Trading Company, a bag that had sailed 20,000 miles, she'd just had a thought that since some bags were biodegradable, how long would her hammock last?

Judy and I also discussed our love of rummaging in thrift stores. I explained that in Norway, a few years ago, I'd came across piles of used hand embroidered kitchen items such as napkins, bread basket warmers, cake doilies and pot holders all for sale for pennies. They seemed to have so much history and love in them it seemed a shame to see them discarded. We poured over ideas on how to recycle them, perhaps sewing them together for table clothes, aprons or decorative kitchen curtains. I'm now inspired to go thrift store hunting on my return to Norway and will keep you informed on my acquisitions.

Jake was equally entertaining. He'd been a Royal Navy Captain and told great sea stories including the time he had both the US president and British prime minister in his captain's cabin of his warship while at anchor off Martinique. Judy, being the captain's wife, had occasionally accompanied Jake on flag showing missions and was able to embellish Jakes stories, so together they created engaging dinner entertainment.

Most evenings at cocktail time I'd pop over to Aquest to Irish step dance to Judy's accordion playing. I soon learnt that Jake was the primary cook onboard while Judy did the provisioning and took care of nibbles and stowage. As Judy and I become involved in our little sessions Jake would ask questions from below as to where items were stowed so that he could find them to add to dinner.

One particular day Judy had the inspiration to knot up a fruit hammock, recalling some of the former knots she'd used in the seventies when she did macramé. She bought a lovely cheap natural ball of string at the hardware store then set to all day knotting. Trouble was the string continued to shed fibers creating quite mess and numerous attempts were made at getting the dimensions right. To put an end to Judy's frustration Jake quickly traded a bottle of wine with a neighboring boat for some netting which he promptly rigged to the coach roof.

Judy and I did swap a few recipes and onboard provisions. It was not a high priority on our social gatherings together but somehow the subject would naturally to slip into our conversations and we'd scribble down recipes on scrap paper along with dance steps and tunes. On cleaning out my locker on our next passage to Ireland I came across these recipes we'd swapped, they may seem eclectic but they do so remind me of Judy and Jake's charm and the joy they share cruising.

Chorizo and Potatoes Tapas
  • 1 onion – finely sliced
  • 3 chorizo sausages
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves – squashed
  • 1 lb potatoes – cubed small
  • salt and pepper

    Slice sausages on the diagonal. Heat oil in a pan a sauté sausages, onion, and garlic, cook 10 minutes. Add potatoes, salt and pepper and enough water to cover. Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes until liquid reduces to a sauce and potatoes are tender. Serve with crusty bread.

Spaghetti Cabonara
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ½ lb pancetta or bacon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic - peeled
  • 3 eggs
  • Parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • salt and fresh ground pepper

    Cook spaghetti. Meanwhile sauté pancetta in olive oil, 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 5 minutes, don't overcook. Remove garlic. Break eggs into the bowl you will be serving the pasta in, beat with a fork. Add cooked pasta, salt and pepper, toss thoroughly. Mix in pancetta, cheese and parsley. Serves 6

Lemon Curd
  • 4 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice – about 5 lemons
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter - cut into small pieces
  • 3 eggs - lightly beaten

    Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat stir in butter until it melts. Let cool to room temperature. Beat eggs into cooled mixture until well blended. Return to heat and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats spoon. Don't let the curd boil as it may curdle. Remove from heat. Cool and jar. Keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks and in the freezer for approximately two months. Lemon curd doesn't freeze solid, so you can spoon out exactly what you want when needed. For a variation substitute limes for lemons. Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.

Jude's Lemon Pud
  • 1 large tub of Greek Yogurt
  • 1 large tub heavy cream
  • 1 jar lemon curd

    Mix together and chill before serving

Quick Desert
  • gorgonzola cheese
  • walnuts
  • runny honey

    Serve sliced gorgonzola sprinkled with chopped toasted walnuts and a drizzle of runny honey.

Dún Aonghasa is the ancient Irish name given to an impressive pre historic fort built at the very edge of Europe, on the Aran Island of Inismór The fortress stands atop 300ft cliffs battered by the Atlantic Ocean, its four concentric stone walls surrounded by a field of razor sharp stone stakes known as chevaux-de-frise. To reach the fort from our yacht in Kilronan harbour I had the choice of bicycle or guided pony trap known as a jaunting car. John and I chose bikes and we set off down the coast lane.

History has it that people came to these islands to farm and fish and on leaving town we entered an austere landscape so crisscrossed with dry stone walls that I began to wonder how anyone survived here. Studying my surroundings I noticed signs of farming; hay spread out in a field to dry in the weak sunshine, goats nibbling away in an over grown bramble yard of a deserted house, woolly white sheep that provide the trade mark Aran sweaters and a farmer with his cows. When I stopped to chat he replied in Gaelic before translating to English. He was moving cows from one pen to another, dismantling the intricate grey slate lace-like wall to let them out, only to rebuild it again. There were no gates. He explained that farming had been in his family for centuries with such traditions as spreading seaweed on the slate ground to establish topsoil that is still only now a foot deep.

We cruised on down past a wide sandy beach were seals played in the surf before hitting strong headwinds and blasting rain showers that stormed cross the island top. John, feeling an oncoming cold plus the results of last night with me dragging him about town in search of traditional dancing and music, longed for a cup of tea. His wish was granted when we rounded a corner into Kilmurvey village and there, bright as a button, stood the thatched-roofed tea house, Tigh Nan Phaidi. Upon opening the bright yellow door we entered a world seeped in tradition. Earthy smoke from the peat fire thickened the air, candles danced in a swirling draft while Irish music mingled with soft lilting voices and kitchen clanging.

John and I were even more enchanted when lovely lass introduced herself as Correna and asked for our orders, explaining that all the items were prepared in-house using local produce where possible. Written up on three boards was an extensive menu that had our famished bellies growling even though it well before lunch. We ordered tomato soup served with soda bread and a wild green salad Camembert dressing with a promise that we'd soon follow up with a selection from the cakes, scones and biscuits that crowded the long counter.

After tea and cake I had the chance to chat with Correna and Deidra. For the summer Correna had come to the remote island to work with her aunt and was shocked that she really enjoyed it. We discussed the traditions of Irish food and how delighted I was in the transformation from the fried bland meals of ten years ago, to a more local, fresher, exotic approach. Deidra agreed adding that there is also a growing awareness of slow food cooking where the good ole staple Irish stew stands proud. As we heard voices approaching, heralding the noon rush, I knew it was to time to be on our way though little did I realize how long we had lingered so there was no time to view the fort. Hopefully Dun Aonghasa will stand for a few more years but thankfully it's possible to revisit Tigh Nan Phaidi with these enticing dishes.

Wild Green Salad with Camembert Dressing
  • 4 rashers dry-cured bacon
  • 1 Granny Smith apple - cored and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • wild salad greens
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Grill bacon in a skillet for 5 minutes, remove and finely chop when cool. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté apple until tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle salad greens with lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Top with warm apple, bacon and dressing. Serves 4

Camembert Dressing
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 3 ounces Camembert cheese, preferably Irish - rind removed and chopped
  • dash of cider vinegar

    In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk sour cream, cider, cheese, and vinegar. Cook until cheese melts and mixture is creamy, about 4 minutes.

Tomato Soup
  • 1½ lbs tomatoes
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves - crushed
  • 1 stick celery - finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil- shredded
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 potato - peeled and grated
  • 1 carrot - peeled and grated
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • yogurt

    Place tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, leave a few seconds then peel and chop. Sauté onion in olive oil 3 minutes, add tomatoes, garlic, celery, tomato paste, half of the basil. Stir in stock and simmer 30 minutes. Add potato and carrots, simmer 10 minutes more. Serve decorates with basil and yogurt. Serves 4.

Irish Brown Soda Bread
As Irish traditions go the cross on the top lets the fairies out so they don't 'jinx your bread.
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1¾ cups white flour
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk

    Thoroughly mix the flours and oats together, rub in butter, add salt and soda. Make a well in the center and gradually mix in liquid. Depending on the absorbent quality of the flour you may need less or more liquid. The dough should be soft but manageable. In the bowl knead the dough into a ball with floured hands. Place dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and flatten out into a 1 1/2 inches thick circle. Dip a knife in flour and make a deep cross through the center of the bread so when baked it will easily break into quarters. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce to 350 degrees and bake a further 15 minutes. If the crust seems too hard, wrap the bread in a damp tea towel. Eat whilst still warm!

Irish Beef Stew
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds stew beef - cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves - chopped
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes - peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 3 carrots – cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

    Heat olive oil in large heavy pot and sauté beef until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in stock, Guinness, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. While the meat is simmering, melt butter and sauté potatoes, onion and carrots until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to stew and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves, spoon off fat add salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parsley. Serves 4.

Coppery, fruitful, tinny, sweet, nutty and crisp are all favorable descriptions of the oyster but their seductive appeal is perhaps for the initiated few, alone in a class that include lobster, truffles and passion fruit. Oysters have a rags to riches history, originating as a staple for the poor in the cold water costal regions of Europe, they became the desired food of kings and leaders of the Roman Empire, devoured in excess with decadence.

Enormous expense and difficulty went into transporting oysters which also helped establish the beginnings of refrigeration. Oysters from France's Brittany region were originally carted to Rome in winter when snow could be used to keep the oysters chilled. As the demands for a yearly supply grew oysters were then carted in chilled salted water that was changed at several locations. Caves were modified with cold running spring water to keep oysters longer and specially built double hulled galley boats ferried oysters from coast of Roman Britain.

Of all the seafood I've eaten oysters are certainly my favorite, perhaps it's because they taste great as is - raw. As a sailor in New Zealand you're never far away from a good feed of rock oysters, just anchor in a bay with a semi rocky foreshore and bingo, there they are waiting. It's illegal to chip oysters off the rocks and take them home but its fine to eat them in place, just remember to bring along a cold beer to chase them down. To me sailing and oysters are synonymous, like baseball and hot dogs to Americans.

When I'm not on sailing expeditions I'm shore based at Roche Harbor, San Juan Island and as I travel into town I pass a sign on the roadside intersection that says "Oysters”. Ah, what thoughts and tastes those words evoke. At the end of the road you arrive at Westcott Bay Sea Farms or better yet visit by boat after navigating through Mosquito Pass into Westcott Bay or the adjacent Garrison Bay. The Sea Farm features a long pier with room for visitor's dinghies. At the head of the pier you'll find a self service oyster sales arrangement. A series of tubs with various notices explain how to make your selection of oysters, clams or mussels then determine the cost by weighing them in. It's all rather fun being able to pick and choose trying to decide which will provide the best flavor. If you want even more entertainment, at low tide you can don on a pair of their gumboots and rubber gloves before wandering out onto the flats to gather your own. There's a good incentive to do this as they're half price!

Two varieties of oysters are produced at the sea farm: the Westcott Bay European Flat or Belon which is native to France, Holland and the British Isles sporting a complex flavor with a distinct sweetness, and the Westcott Bay Petite a Japanese oyster that delivers a rich, sweet salty flavor. The farms first oyster harvest was in 1980 after an enthusiastic pursuit of Bill Webb. When Bill and Dorre Webb started a summer camp at Westcott Bay in the 1960's Bill, a biology teacher, observed algae blooms along with many species of shellfish in the inter tidal area. Shell middens were, and still are, proof that the indigenous Indians had once harvested shellfish at the same site. In the 1970's researchers for University of Washington conducted experiments with clams and oyster in the bay giving Bill the idea to start a shellfish farm so he bought some shellfish seed and suspended it in the bay from homemade trays.

Nourished by the clean marine waters of Haro Strait those first seedlings flourished to establish an ongoing sustainable aquaculture farm that is extremely eco-friendly. The development of a hatchery on site has allowed the farm to expand and today they're a leader in quality shellfish aquaculture, marketing their product primarily to restaurants from Seattle to New York to Singapore. If you're an oyster connoisseur like me you'll never be disappointed with Westcott Bay oysters, but if perhaps you need a little encouragement, do try one of these recipes.

Mermaids on Horseback

  • 24 shucked oysters
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 garlic clove - minced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • *24 pumpernickel bread ovals
  • *fresh salad greens and lemon

    Marinate oysters in wine, garlic and pepper for 1 hour. Wrap each oyster in prosciutto and secure with a damp cocktail stick, broil oysters each side until brown. Serve as is or remove stick and place on pumpernickel. Another option is to thread 6 wrapped oysters onto a damp skewer and broil or barbeque until brown. Serve as an appetizer on a bed of lettuce with a lemon slice.

Oysters Mornay
  • 24 shucked oysters in shells – reserve liquid
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 green onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ bay leaf
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • extra grated Parmesan cheese

    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and sauté green onion 3 minutes. Stir in flour and over low heat continue stirring for 3 minutes without allowing roux to brown. Remove from heat, gradually add milk, while stirring, making a smooth sauce. Return to heat, add nutmeg and bay leaf, simmer 5 minutes. Strain though a fine sieve. Heat oyster liquid, poach oysters 30 seconds placing them back in their shells with slotted spoon. Stir the oyster liquid into sauce, add cheese and remaining butter, stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over oysters, sprinkle with Parmesan and broil 4 minutes until golden. Serves 4.

Oyster Verde
  • 24 shucked oysters in shells
  • ½ cup finely chopped leeks
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 ½ cups chopped spinach
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 anchovy fillets - chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1½ cups grated Gruyere cheese

    Melt butter in a saucepan, sauté leeks and shallots until soft. Add spinach, watercress, parsley, and basil. Cook until wilted but not faded in color. Add anchovies, wine, season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture over oysters and top with cheese. Broil 4 minutes until cheese is golden. Serves 4

Stacked Oyster Salad
  • 12 shucked oysters - chilled
  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • ¼ cup Roquefort cheese
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion - sliced paper-thin
  • 1 cup tomatoes - peeled, seeded and diced

    Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for 1 minute, refresh with ice water. Blend Roquefort with sour cream, season to taste. Make a stack on chilled salad plates starting with asparagus followed by 2 oysters, onions then drizzle with dressing. Scatter the plate with tomatoes and fresh ground pepper Serves 6.

Oysters with Seared Carpaccio of Beef
  • 12 shucked oysters - chilled
  • 1 ½ lb fillet of beef
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary – finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkling of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • splash of white wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cups watercress
  • ¼ cup shaved parmesan

    Pound coriander seeds in pestle and mortar, mix in rosemary, salt, pepper and oregano then spread on a board. Roll and press beef fillet over mixture, ensuring it sticks. Sear the fillet in a very hot pan for about 5 minutes until brown and crisp on all sides. Remove from pan and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing thinly. Spread beef on a platter and scatter with oysters. Combine horseradish, crème fraîche, a little lemon juice and white wine vinegar, season well. Dribble dressing over beef. Toss watercress with olive oil and lemon juice and scatter, with Parmesan over Platter. Serves 4

After a galley presentation at the Seattle Boat Show I was approached by a woman who excitedly exclaimed that I must visit the blog of Toast - a new live aboard on her dock at Elliot Bay Marina. I was totally flummoxed about what she was talking about it until a few hours later I was introduced to Karen "Toast" Conger.

Toast quickly explained that two years ago, after spending more that two decades in the software industry, she and her husband realized they had achieved the pinnacle of their first careers and that their three daughters were growing up quickly. They were ready for something different; perhaps a life of adventure oriented more around the girls.

They purchased a Lagoon 380 catamaran naming it Don Quixote and began preparing themselves and the boat for an extended cruise. As part of the transition, Toast started a series of weekly articles entitled Toast Floats at Having moved aboard in April they are now spending the summer on shakedown cruise in the Pacific Northwest and if all goes to plan, they will sail for Mexico in the fall.>

Toast's passionate humor and frank telling it like it is was so intoxicating, I just had to ask her to share a galley experience. So read on and do look for her on the water or check out her blog for more amusing tales. Aloha, Amanda

Heat is Underrated
by Toast

The weather is so fickle in Seattle. One day the sun shines bright and you broil in the enclosed cockpit, the next day you're schlepping down the fuel dock in a steady drizzle with a 5 gallon jerry can to get diesel for the heater. It was on one of those dreary, ugly days that argue for a southern itinerary and during which you categorically believe that the Eskimos' 40 words for snow ain't got nothing on our 60 some odd ways to curse the rain, that we converged at the marina, our sour mood matching the damp, sour smell of the boat. Somehow during the day while my husband filled the cruising kitty and the girls and I home schooled at the science center, every erg of warmth and hominess had leached out of Don Quixote, leaving her a green and white hole in the water into which we threw our tired, depressed selves.

Rising to the occasion, I remembered a trick of savvy home-sellers: frozen cookie dough. They bake a small batch of cookies before an open house in a subtle -- but highly effective -- maneuver to make the house feel like your home. Never mind that you probably haven't baked cookies in this millennium. "Brilliant!" I think. Baking dough addresses three problems in one blow: the oven will warm the salon, the baking smell will combat the manky boatiness, and the cookies will throw all three kids into a sugar induced frenzy during which they will act as a living demonstration of Boyle's gas law.

I fired up our oven and threw in a half dozen frozen cookie balls. In our land-based house, this would take maybe 12 minutes of concentrated cooking effort to yield a plate full of pseudo-domestic nirvana. If I munge the cookies as they come off the sheet, I can even squish them in just the right way so as to fool other people into thinking they are truly home made. However, at 20 minutes, our breath was still frosting the air and the balls had slumped on the pan like snow men on a bright sunny day. At 40 minutes, the pasta primavera and beets were consumed, the heater had increased the ambient temperature to slightly above that found in a meat locker, and the cookies had flowed in a solid sheet across their no-stick pan in a layer of chocolaty uncooked goodness.

At this point, I informed our captain that a change in priorities for refitting the boat was in order. While I'll grant you that list of things to do to outfit a boat for live aboard cruising is a long one, the cookie pancake was proof positive that leaving the oven for next to last was a mistake. If the man seriously wanted to ever consume home baked, hot Italian bread again, never mind lasagna, pizza, or even re-warmed tortillas, he would make "# 145. Replace Oven" the top of his priority list. In want of heat I set the children to a homework assignment to see who could light 20 tea candles the fastest, while I fired up the kerosene lantern.

From this experience, I offer three important tips for cruising in the cool Northwest: first, a kerosene lantern will warm a boat salon in 3 minutes flat, thus sending your family into a tropical frenzy, stripping off their clothes like Vegas pole dancers (so make sure you have curtains). Second, the oven must work. It must actually warm things even if the surrounding air is near freezing. Otherwise, we should not call it an oven but rather refer to it as the cereal cupboard. Finally, adaptability uber alles. The recipes offered here come from that memorable night when I learned not only how to cook with mittens on, but also how to convince my family that anything tastes good as long as you add pine nuts.

Pasta Primavera
This dish comes in many variations; the key to success for me is the slow carmalization of the garlic, onion, and pine nuts plus using Pecorino Romano rather than Kraft parmigiana.
  • 1 lb pasta - preferably fettuccine or spaghetti but in a pinch any pasta will do, even elbow macaroni
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 yellow onion - thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups spicy, ground animal product - including a spicy, salty meat such as Italian or Portuguese sausage, ham, bacon, or any other highly seasoned meat; it's like adding flavor crystals. Note this ingredient is optional for vegetarians, required for the rest of us.
  • 3 cups steamed wholesome, green vegetables - If, like me, you have to hide vegetables from your children, this is the perfect place to do it. Traditional choices include: broccoli, zucchini, green beans, or fava beans but I've used vegetables whose name I either do not know or can not pronounce. You can also use the greens from the beet dish below if you really need to hide them from a vegiephobe.
  • 2 large tomatoes - diced

    While pasta is cooking in a small bowl, beat eggs, fold in cheese to create a smooth paste. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion and garlic until onion starts to caramelize. Add pine nuts and meat: sauté until meat is cooked and pine nuts are dark golden. Add steamed vegetable(s) and tomatoes, stir gently for 2 minutes until the tomatoes are just warmed. Drain pasta and immediately mix in egg-cheese mixture. The egg will cook as you mix to coat noodles. Serve pasta on a platter or in individual bowls topped by the vegetable/meat combo.

Balsamic Beets
  • 1 bunch of beets with greens
  • 1 apple - peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

    Trim off greens and reserve. Dice beets and either boil or pressure cook until tender, add apple. Steam beet greens separately. In a small bowl mix olive oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper; coat beets with dressing. Serve steamed greens with beets and apples atop. And eat your greens! They are not just decorative but very tasty, tender, and nutritious.

Improved Frozen Cookie Dough
  • 1 frozen chocolate chip cookie dough
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 really bad boat oven

    Place dough in a non-stick pan. Let it melt in the oven at low heat until the dough covers the pan. Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake until the pine nuts are a lovely golden brown and the cookie dough is close enough to done that no one yells at you.

Everything's Better with (Cheap) Sangria
  • 1 box red wine
  • 2 orange juice

  • fresh fruit - preferably strawberries, or any Pacific Northwest berry, also mangoes, pineapple, or any other non-rotten, non-canned tropical fruit.

    The magic in this beverage is that it can be served cold or warm and the orange juice provides the cover that you aren't actually drinking but rather getting your daily vitamin C. Preparation requires no explanation. Really. Trust me. Just find the wine in the forward locker and go to town.

I was on mission in Friday Harbor - searching for a present for John's birthday. Completely out of ideas, I gathered I had nothing to loose in checking out the San Juan Hot Shop. Upon entering the store I was greeted by bright festive sight and was overwhelmed by the amazing array of hot chili stuff I knew nothing about. With the help of Phil Mayer, the store owner, I selected many items that proved to be a hit with John. As I hadn't even seemed to touch the tip of what Phil offered I decided to revisit so I could learn more about this hot spot.

How did you end up in the hot sauce trade?
This store was started by a couple 10 years ago as part of Amigos restaurant. When Amigos closed last year the hot shop was moved next to the drug store and I bought it soon after. I was a chef all though college and worked at Roche Harbor Resort prepping and cooking before getting involved in the ordering. It seemed a natural walk-in into the hot sauce trade as I love cooking and finding hot sauces that just perfectly match foods. I'm also a landscaper but the allure was loosing its luster after 10 years.

I know nothing about hot sauce how do you match it to food?
Right, there are certain ones that go good with fish, such as this recipe. Mango Peach Halibut*
  • 4 halibut steaks
  • 1 bottle Big Acres Mango Peach Chili Sauce
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

    Sauté onions in butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add rice and lightly brown. Add water; cover and simmer on low 45 minutes. Lightly oil, salt and pepper steaks, grill over medium heat until just done. Warm chili sauce in a saucepan. When rice is done, mix in parsley. Serve halibut on bed of rice and top with sauce. *Recipe courtesy of Melanie's Fine Foods.

Some hot sauces go great with meats, while others go really well with Taco's or make outstanding dips. You can go with one of the hottest in the shop - "Z" to a really mild sauce if you just want a hint of pepper. We offer a wide variety of sauces and picantes.

How do you rate peppers?
The capsicum content of a pepper is measured in parts per million of sugar drops of water from a dropper and converted into Scoville heat units. Take a 5oz bottle of"Z" for example it's a 4 million, meaning it's a .1/4 of the hottest in the world. If you were to put this additive in a bowl it would take 4 million drops to make it barely tingeable on your tongue.

I notice you have a fridge of hot sauces?
Those are my samples. I like to use them cold but you don't have to keep any of them in the fridge as most hot sauces have vinegar which stabilizes the sauce. In summer I run an open salsa bar with loads food and sample hot sauces, rubs and barbeque sauces. Everyone's tired the usual guacamole, but not everyone has experienced it smoky-style as in this recipe.

Guacamole with Chipotle
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small white onion - minced
  • 1 tomato - minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Melinda's Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Salt to taste.

    Mix all ingredients together. Cover and serve chilled.

How many hot sauces do you have?
I carry over 600 different bottles, and I've tried about 500 of them. I also working on trying all the salsa and barbeque sauces so I can give my honest opinion when people ask what's good on this or that. I try to carry a lot of local and Washington hot sauces like Zane & Zacks and Lopez Larry from Lopez Island. I also have dipping sauces, jerks and barbecue sauces along with related kitchen products and recipes. This is a winner.

Ring of Fire® Seafood Stew*
    1 can minced clams
  • 12 large fresh shrimp
  • 1 fillet fish - chunked
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 3 celery stalks - diced
  • 1 carrot - shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 potatoes - peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Ring of Fire® Habanero Hot Sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

    Saute onions, celery, carrots, garlic and parsley in olive oil for 5 minutes. Deglaze pan with wine and sauté vegetables for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, clams, water, hot sauce, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add fish and shrimp and cook another 10 minutes. Serve with warm sourdough bread. *Recipe courtesy of Mike and Diane's Gourmet Kitchen

What should you look for in a hot sauce?
A lot of folks look at matching them with food, while others really like the labels because so many are funny, quirky or rude. Some just look for the hottest cause they want to see how tough they are. I have and entire shelf of additives; they're not called sauces because they are too hot. You're supposed to only add on drop at a time. Purely heat, some of them have flavor but most are heat.

Tabasco is my standard. How do others compare? Tabasco was one of the first massively produced basic hot sauces from the McIlhenny Company in Louisiana, though there are thousands of regional sauces everywhere. I only carry Tabasco in the gallon jar since you can get small ones everywhere. Tabasco brand pepper sauce on the Socville test rates at 2500 to 5000 and that's barely anything on your tongue in comparison to the 4 million stuff I carry. Dave's Insanity Sauce, which everybody knows, is a 10+, that's hot, about a 400,000 to 500,000, I even heard he was banned from the Fiery-Foods Show.

Other than heat, why so many bottles?
A lot of people collect hot sauces, and there's the annual Fiery-Foods Show in Albuquerque that's a big hit. Some people choose labels are really really funny or perhaps their name pertains on it, or it's to do with their life style like bikers who like a chopper chilly hot shot or fire fighters who like hot spots. I've had military moms come in and ask to have cases shipped to Bagdad. A few celebrities have favorites; for instance one of Jimmy Buffet is Metaucks a West Indian flambé sauce, Michael Anthony, who plays the bass for Van Halen, makes his own called Mad Anthony's. There's also plenty of crazy ones like one with a nose that you squeeze and boogers come out. Bloody Mary's range is inspired by a blood makeup artist in Hollywood. I'm soon to be making my soon, using local ingredients, anything from sea kelp to fresh island herbs.

What else is in hot sauce?
Ingredients vary in vinegars from malt to cider, salts, pods, seed vegetables, and fruits. Look for quality inside the bottle. If it's the plain old red it's probably going to be a normal sauce. Chunks of ingredients and color give them character. Here's a great quick recipe my kids love.

Rasta Pasta
  • ¼ cup Rasta Fire Sauce
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 1 lb rotini pasta

    While pasta is cooking sauté onion, green pepper and garlic. Add Alfredo sauce, Rasta Fire Sauce and cream to pan and heat on low. Add chicken and heat through. Mix Alfredo and pasta together and garnish with serve garnished with chopped parsley.

Just then three strapping construction guys clad in checked shirts and worn Dickies entered the shop. With dark stares they scanned the room like they were looking for trouble. I quickly pictured myself caught in the wrong place like a senorita in Latin bar scene, being burst in on by three bandito's. When their penetrating gaze flicked past me to fix upon the shelves I realized what they were after - hot sauce, I was only a fraud in a hot sauce shop. As they made their multiple selections, quick purchases, and fast get away for the weekend ferry I was a realized I'd just met the urban bandito. Wow, those three amigos sure did set off a girls Scoville rating.

To check out a hot or flavorful sauce, salsa or bbq heat to suit you, or a chili themed item visit the San Juan Hot

Amanda is currently sailing to 80°north, visit for updates. She is also compiling an article on pressure cookers and welcomes your recipes and ideas. Contact;

Aloha. This small word is the soul of Hawaii. Aloha not only represents love but also harmony and respect for everyone, the land, and the sea. Today Hawaii is vibrant melting pot of diverse ethnic groups that creates a harmonious and wholesome flavor. Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Hawaiians, Portuguese, Korean, Caucasians, Vietnamese and more all contribute individual ingredients that produce a unique blend of tastes where each enhances the other. Acknowledging, sampling and sharing traditions not only reminds us to keep our own specialties alive but allows us to live the spirit of aloha.

One of the best places I know to experience aloha is visiting and exploring the Farmers Market in the charming historic sugar town of Hilo on the island of Hawaii. Archeologists can trace Hawaiians living in the expansive Hilo Bay and central Wailuku River back to 1100 A.D and when missionaries arrived in 1824, they also choose to settle near the river. As Hilo started to grow to serve the whaling ships it also began to attract Chinese merchants and other ships of commerce and so began the construction of a breakwater that took 21 years, from 1908 to 1929 and 951,273 tons of rock. At the turn of the 20th century a new crop was established for the area – sugar, and Hilo became the central hub of for commerce, rail, shipping, government and finance for the entire island. Workers were needed to tend the cane fields and waves of migrant laborers were bought in from Japan, the Azores, Madeira, and the Philippines. Two destructive tsunamis, the first in 1946 and the other in 1960, did not stop this bustling little town for long and today Hilo is Hawaii's second largest city.

To really appreciate Hilo's history I often take a wander from the yacht harbor, past Suisan fish market and along the bay's black sand beach where the canoe clubs paddle daily. Turning at the river I stroll back along the buildings that face the waterfront. Instantly I pass Kohen's furniture store, originally a warehouse for storing and loading sugar, before arriving at a mix of classic art deco buildings that abound for the next few blocks. These charming establishments contain a funky mix of shops, restaurants, theatres and galleries that always keep me entertained. As I reach the end of the row I'm greeted by the bustling sight of the open-air farmers market. The key to this market is freshness, which in Hilo translates to homegrown, homemade, or caught this morning. With nine of the world's twelve climates occurring on the island and an extensive cultural presence, the Farmers Market certainly displays and represents the extensive variety the Big Island has to offer.

On a recent visit to Hilo I was once again eagerly awaiting my Saturday morning adventure. It's always an educational experience and on this day I made sure I had allowed plenty of time for interacting with the vendors to gather recipes, hints, and suggestions on using their products. Thai basil, pineapples, roasted macadamia nuts, fresh ginger, coriander, bell peppers, tuna, green onion all caught my fancy and two hours later I departed, eager to get creative in the kitchen. On making a number of dishes these recipes proved to be favorites so I'd like to share with you the diverse taste of the Big Island. Pick a flower to wear in your hair and go out and embrace summer. Aloha.

Thai Summer Rolls
  • 8 dried rice paper wrappers
  • 2 carrots – julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup red cabbage – shredded
  • ½ cup green cabbage – shredded
  • 8 large shrimp – cooked and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 16 large Thai basil leaves

    Dip each rice paper in warm water and place on a flat surface. After the paper has softened, about 2 minutes spread with split shrimp, 2 basil leaves and vegetables. Roll up into parcel and cut in half. Serve with Thai Peanut dipping sauce.

Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 or 2 red chilies - seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts

Spicy Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 or 2 red chilies - seeded and minced
  • 2 carrots – julienned
  • 3 celery stalks – sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper – julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper – julienned
  • 2 cups mushrooms – sliced
  • 3 green onion – sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • ½ cup honey roasted peanuts – chopped

    Heat oil in a skillet. Add ginger, carrots and celery and stir-fry 1 minute. Add bell peppers, mushroom, green onion and bean sprouts; saute until just soft. Stir in stock, fish sauce and black pepper. Garnish with coriander and peanuts and serve with brown or jasmine rice.

Chicken with Macadamia Nut Barbecue Sauce
  • 4 chicken breast
  • 4 shallots – chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 2-3 red chilies – seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 8 macadamia nuts – chopped
  • 3 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

    In a mortar pound the shallots, garlic, chilies, ginger and macadamia nuts to a coarse paste. Heat oil in a non stick skillet, add paste and sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup, soy sauce and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves, let cool. Rub paste into chicken and marinate 1 hour. Grill chicken, baste with marinade. Serve on salad greens with lime wedges.

Fish with Hawaiian Sesame Seed Sauce
  • 4 fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic

    Combine all ingredients in small skillet and simmer over low heat until reduced by half. Spoon over grilled fish.

Grilled Pineapple with Homemade Coconut Rum Ice Cream
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 4 fresh pineapple slices
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

    In a stainless steel bowl combine coconut, milk, cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. In a separate bowl beat egg white until stiff, fold it into the cream mixture. Fold in rum. Freeze in metal bowl and whisk every hour to fill it with air and make it smooth. Dip pineapple in brown sugar and grill each side 4 minutes until pineapple caramelizes. Serve warm pineapple with scoops of ice cream sprinkled with roasted mac nuts.

Our first expedition for 2007 took us up the length of Norway; 1,000 miles of majestic coastline that resembles a set of jagged teeth with a myriad of fjords, isolated islands and towering snowy peaks above scattered farms and towns. Our three week itinerary was flexible though we're always vigilant of the weather realizing that it often dictates when we stop or go. Running out of time with last minute chores in the boat yard north of Gothenburg, Sweden meant that, John and I in just one day undertook a major provision at the large superstore in Udvella. This was a first and when our crew arrived the next day I was relived that we'd soon be underway and off on an adventure.

The Skagerrak, the sea between Denmark, Sweden and Norway gave us a scrappy fight as we tried to sail for Norway's southern tip, so much so that I've nicknamed it the Scardy Cat. We'd been forced to turn back on our first attempt, with many of our crew seasick, and on our second attempt gale force pushed us further eastwards on the inside sea to the historic trading port of Risor, renowned for it's white houses that date from 1650. It was Sunday, a day Norwegians' consider should be spent outdoors. A point to note on this day is that no shops are open in the whole of Norway. As we strolled about town I was intrigued by all the activity; people painting their house, messing about with boats, walking dogs and babies in carriages or socializing at elaborate afternoon dinner parties created in vibrant spring gardens where fresh berries and barbeques always seemed to feature.

Not to be left out I created a berry crumble for our crew from frozen berries

Apple Berry Crumble

  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup walnuts - chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 apples - thinly sliced
  • 1 bag frozen berries
  • 1 cup stewed rhubarb
  • 1 lemon - juice and zest
  • ¼ cup butter
    Combine first 6 ingredients, rub in butter. Butter a large baking dish. Mix apples with juice and spread in dish with berries and rhubarb. Top with oatmeal. Bake 30 minutes at 350°F.

With a great weather forecast we departed for Bergen, Norway's second largest city, and a few days later tied up before a long parallel row of rough timber warehouses that date from the 1700 and the Hanseatic League. Establish in the 13 century and continuing for 400 year these dominate German merchants formed a close knit community that exported dried fish, butter, skins and imported grain and luxury items like textiles, pottery and wine between 200 European ports. Bergen's stunning fjord setting, relaxed waterfront atmosphere, and vibrant street life create an appealing cosmopolitan mix that is easy to enjoy. My morning must, after a coffee and pastry at a konditori, is a visit to the plaza market where venders are quick to offer samples of the days catch including smoked whale. On this particular visit fresh salmon caught my fancy and I was excited to create salmon tartare for lunch.

Salmon Tartare
You may also substitute a firm white fish or tuna for this dish. The fish can also be seared if you prefer: Cook the entire fillet in a pan over a high heat for 1 minute each side, cool and cut into ¼ inch cubes.
  • 8oz fresh salmon - ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of horseradish or wasabi
  • 24 endive leaves
    Combine first 8 ingredients, cover and chill. Combine yogurt, juice and horseradish. Serve spoonfuls of tatare on endive leaves drizzled with yogurt and garnished with chopped chives.

Various restaurants tempted our crew ranging from jaunty tapas bars to upscale affairs that offer Norway's version of surf and turf; whale, seal and reindeer. Not knowing anything about reindeer I enquired if it was also hunted. I learnt that the indigenous Sami people living in Norway, most of whom live traditional lifestyles, have the right to herd reindeer Some of our crew took a liking to reindeer, comparing it to venison, and throughout the trip often ordered it when we dined out. I noted is usually served with a berry glaze, peppercorns, mushrooms, sautéed red onions and mashed potatoes and together with some of our crew I created the recipe to use with steak.

Filet Mignon with Red Currant-Green Peppercorn Sauce
  • 1 ½ cups Merlot
  • ½ cup shallots - chopped
  • ¼ cup red currant jam
  • 1 tablespoon drained brine-packed green peppercorns - chopped
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 4 tenderloin steaks
  • salt and pepper
    Combine wine and shallots in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes until reduced to a 1/4 cup Add jam and green peppercorns and stir until jelly melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter; keep warm. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and grill 4 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Serve sauce with steak.

Surfing north from Bergen in following near gale force winds and seas we spent five days weaving our way through fjords and offshore islands before crossing the Arctic Circle in glorious weather. To celebrate our fast passage we decided to take a side excursion up Hollandsfjorden, home to Svartisen glacier, Europe's second largest. After tying to a small dock it is a half hour run to the marbled granite slope that lead to the glaciers tongue and yet another 30 minute hike to the ice. It's well worth the effort for the views. John and I undertook this exercise both in the evening and next morning with the design to stay in shape but on passing the chalet at the glaciers lake edge after our morning run we were lured in by it's waving flags and wafting smells.

Today the chalet was expecting a small Hurtigruten party for a traditional regional breakfast. Hurtigruten literally meant the express route; a name given to ships that travel the coast between Bergen to Kirkenes, near the Russian border, carrying mail, cargo, and passengers and departing daily from both Bergen and Kirkenes. The impressive buffet setup held 6 varieties of waffles served with assorted flavored local cheeses, meats, fruit and berries. There went our diets as John and I succumbed hot waffles, jam, berries and thick yogurt before dashing boat wards to serve crew breakfast. But no one was there, they'd all gone off in search of coffee and treats. As we traveled further north the lavish pasties, of the tasty Bergen variety, all but disappeared from the stores only to be replaced by freshly made waffles. Any place that has an eatery has a line up of waffle irons and a good kitchen store sells up to 7 patterned variations.

Buttermilk Waffles
Waffles steam when they cook and require plenty of oil or butter in the batter to crisp properly therefore never make then from pancake batter.
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
    Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and stir until combined. In another bowl beat egg, egg white, buttermilk and oil until frothy. Stir wet ingredients into flour until flour in moist but lumpy, add more buttermilk if too thick. Do not over mix as waffles will be rubbery.
Our last week of voyaging held little wind but not to mind for we made the most of fabulous round the clock sunshine with hikes, swimming, el fresco dinning and numerous cod fishing events. Upon reflection our one day provisioning efforts had pulled through as all meals had gone to plan. To sum up Norwegian provisions I think the total lack of the English language on any of the food packing has been my biggest frustration and I do wish I could understand a little Norwegian as I've gathered about 20 stunning recipe booklets from various manufactures. Pumpernickel bread has been a huge hit with crew and as much as I like Scandinavian knackebrod and cripbread I'm ready for a change. Mature cheddar cheese is not common and more economical is a mild Jarlsberg. Supermarket and restaurant prices are considerably above US prices and pizza plus hotdogs appear to be the national dish for Norwegians. Fresh fruit and vegetables are readily available and I was thrilled to restock with my favorite Kiwi Breabrurn apples and onions. Seafood and meat is a little spendy but jigging for cod with colored plastic worm hooks is a cinch and you won't be disappointed. Skål from Norway


An interview with Ingrid van den Broek

Thankfully, I met Ingrid in the Port of Longyearbyen laundry. Loading the machines she seemingly had mastered all the picture buttons, dials, plus blinking lights. Phew, I needed help and Ingrid enthusiastically talked me through the complicated process - this was no one-push-button affair. Realizing our socializing time might be cut short - everyone passing through Longyearbyen is on a tight schedule - we quickly chatted through the preliminary questions such as, "What boat are you on? Have you seen any polar bears?" and both arrived at the conclusion that we had hit it off. "Let's do coffee! Seven am?" Ingrid is delightfully Dutch, full of energy, and funny. This is her first season cruising aboard Twinga, an Outbourn 52, and I was curious to learn how she came to be in Spitsbergen.

What inspired you to go cruising?
I've loved water since I was a girl especially holidays in, near, or on the water. I've been involved in water sports like surfing and swimming and did a week sailing course when I was 15, though I didn't continue sailing. When Willem and I met we told each other our dreams. "I want to travel the world; I want to see so many places," I said. "I want to see the world too - on a boat," said Willem. We combined our dreams and set a goal to sail to Spitsbergen - 80 degrees north. We wanted to experience nature in a pure form.

What is your galley layout?
A light, spacious pilot saloon that seats eight with a step down to a long walk through galley forward on starboard side. Double sinks centerline forward of the lifting keel bulkhead, large counter space, gas stove, fridge, and freezer, plus a microwave in the bow.

What are your galley priorities?
We wanted a galley that we could use to entertain clients. After cruising Spitsbergen we will return to Holland and use Twinga for corporate team training.

What is one thing you would change in your galley?
Now that I've been cruising for two months, I don't think the large counter is functional. It's obviously convenient for entertaining, but I'm in need of small dividers and tie downs to hold items such as the bread and coffee machines. Items just sit on the counter and have to be stowed whenever we sail.

What is your "must have" galley item?
My English "Taylors" oven. I love it. The top half is a grill, and the griller is excellent. At home I have a luxury oven, but this is better.

What food concerns did you have?
We provisioned for six months. I was worried that we would lack vitamins. I bought the book You Are What You Eat; it explains all the functions of vitamins for the body. I consulted with a nutritionalist who recommended extra food supplements which taste so horrible that we've given up taking them. Instead we ensure that we eat fresh fruit and vegetables.

In an hour you depart for 80 north?
Yes, we plan to achieve our dream! We've only 150 miles to go. Perhaps we'll go further to see the pack ice.

Have you prepared meals for this passage?
No, not yet, we're going to cook on the way. We have fresh provisions for our week cruising until we return to get the saildrive fixed and pick up friends.

Do you need to make any meal accommodations for your friends visit?
I worried about how I'd cope. We've just had a friend join us for the past two weeks and he actually said "I'll give you a restaurant star for the way that you've cooked. It's been exceptional!" So, I'm really pleased.

Who does what in the galley?
I wrote the grocery list, and Willem did all the shopping. Willem - "Days and days of shopping. Often when I was in a store, on my way home from work, I'd be walking around with my list ticking off items. People would actually think I worked there and start asking where things were." Willem makes the bread and when I'm seasick he cooks because then I will not go into the galley or use the microwave. It's only been three times. However, I direct; I tell him where everything is and what to do. We share dishes.

What is your comfort food?
My favorite food is actually quite plain - potato crisps; when I'm seasick the saltiness helps. I also like chocolate, and my cooked remedy is pancakes with cheese; it's a Dutch thing!

Snack Pancakes with Cheese
  • 1 package of Pancake mix
  • milk
  • water
  • cheese
    Mix pancakes according to directions and cook as the French do - thin crepes. Top with cheese and let it melt, either on the stove or 2 minutes in the micro-wave. Roll up pancakes and serve.

What inspires you when you create meals onboard?
I cook off the top of my head; I love to be creative with what I have. Willem will ask "Are we eating so and so ?" and he's looking for it wondering "So� but where's it gone?" I will have made something else out of it, either putting it in tortillas or an oven dish.

"Ovenschotel" (dutch for: oven-dish)
You can vary this dish depending on what you have/like, plus it's easy to make in rough seas. My favorites are the following ;
  • 3 cups cooked broccoli florets
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves - crushed
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (or 1 can)
  • 4 portions mashed potato
  • herbs, salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil
  • breadcrumbs
    In an oven dish, sauté onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add chicken, mushrooms, herbs, then broccoli. Top with potato, sprinkle with olive oil and bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes.

Here's another variation
  • 3 cups diced red cabbage
  • 1 lb minced meat
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms,
  • mashed potato
  • herbs, salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil
  • breadcrumbs

What provisioning did you do for Spitsbergen?
I thought about menus in advance. As it is our first trip and we chose a "cold area" to sail, I wanted a variation of nice, easy to prepare, hot meals. I knew we would regularly make longer passages (4-7 days) so I balanced the food with carbohydrates for energy, meat/fish or chicken for strength, and vegetables for vitamins. I made menus for 6-8 weeks and have since enjoyed creating more. Our butcher canned meat and chicken with and without sauces. And, as I've lived in Italy, we've lots of Italian food. I precooked and froze vegetables, and I bought and froze vegetable mixes to save chopping in rough seas.

Has your diet changed?
Our menu plan was for hearty meals: a good breakfast, hot lunch, and warm dinner. But we're not having hot lunches everyday; often we just have bread or something small. When we're at sea doing watches, 4 on 4 off, we eat about five small hot meals throughout the 24-hour day. Willem has lost over 10 kilos this trip; I lost 6. We're amazed at the energy we used.

Tortillas with Chicken or Fish
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 lb of chicken or two cans of tuna (or fresh fish)
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 2 garlic cloves - crushed
  • 3 cups vegetables - frozen mix
  • herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can red beans
  • grated cheese
    Sauté onions with garlic in a little olive oil, add chicken then vegetables, herbs and pepper/salt. Ensure vegetables remain "crispy". Toast tortillas 20 seconds in dry pan and fill with chicken/veg mix. Roll them up, secure with a tooth pick, and place in oven dish. Cover with thin layer of cheese; bake in oven until cheese melts and tortillas are really hot - 30 minutes. Serve with rice, red beans and salad. (I like a salad of tomatoes, olives and feta cheese, with olive oil and balsamic, plus a sweet chili sauce one the side.) Serves 4.

What advice can you give?
You can study hours, take a lot of courses, but in the end if you really want to do it ...go for it! Don't be afraid. Prepare yourself well, and learn by doing. Visit and see if dreams come true!

Magdalene Fjord, 79 degrees north, is one of the few places in Spitsbergen that cruise ships are allowed to anchor and land people ashore. To keep visitors from trampling the historic whalers' graves and ensure the polar bears don't eat any more tourists, as happened here in 1977, two Sysselmannen (governor) representatives are stationed in the area for a few months in summer. We had intended to visit the Sysselmannen, but as we entered the fjord, the cruise ship Saga Rose was in the middle of a shore landing. We knew the Sysselmannen would be busy so we bided our time with lunch at the fjords glacier wall and waited until the ship's work crew were in the last stages of disassembling their kitset beach before we anchored off the Sysselmannen's hut stationed above the beach.

Assuming that the Sysselmannen had had enough socializing for the day we planned a brief visit - long enough to say hello, bring a gift of Caribbean jerk seasoning, and offer our services. But instead of gruff and weary patrol personnel, we met Live and Cecilia-captivating city policewomen from Oslo smartly dressed in blue uniforms, lace up boots, and accessorized with an assortment of weapons attached to wide belts. Both girls were bright-eyed and fresh at their posting to one of Norway's most remote police locations and eager to be of assistance. Live spread a chart on the ground to show us where polar bears had been recently sighted while Cecilia engaged us with humorous anecdotes of her work.

As we prepared to leave they asked, "Would you like some vegetables?" explaining that not only had they been over-supplied with food, but a cruise ship had insisted they take a 25kg sack of potatoes. "Yes please!" was our immediate reply. As our crew lugged the English Kent spuds to the dinghy they jokingly remarked, "We're gonna see these taties in every meal to come!" I inwardly panicked. Maybe I'd bitten off more than I could peel, boil, roast, and disguise.

Onboard, an over abundance of any perishable food item quickly becomes an opportunity for sharing and creativity. We'd survived the accidental provisioning of 25 pineapples on a passage from Tahiti to Hawaii, 3 entire stalks of bananas ripening on the same day, and the simultaneous landing of two enormous tuna. Even though I was now juggling an enormous sack of hot potatoes I was determined not to be mashed. Two months later I'm still steadily plowing through tasty Kent tatties thankful the fever of consumption has subsided and life is back to normal. The following European recipes may be a little eclectic but may be of interest should you find yourself in the same spudded boat.

Norway's Tortillas - these potato crepes are often served with dried meats or sliced geitost-a sweet brown goats cheese.
  • 2 lb potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups flour - approximately
    Boil potatoes with skins on. While they are warm peel and mash them with salt. Knead potatoes with flour. (The less flour used, the better the lompe.) Roll dough into a long sausage and divide into equal pieces. With a rolling pin, roll into round 6 inch flat cakes, approx 1/8 inch thick. Fry in a hot fry griddle or frying pan.

Norwegian Creamed Potatoes
Creamed potatoes are usually eaten with cured and smoked fish or smoked meat. Season the potatoes with dill when eaten with fish.
  • 7 large potatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dill
    Peel potatoes and dice into cubes the size of sugar lumps. Boil potatoes in water until three quarters done - 12 minutes. Blend butter and flour and add to potato water and potatoes; cook 5 minutes. Stir in cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes. Add dill just before serving.

Greek Potato Terrine with Pine Nut and Currant Dressing
As this terrine looks dramatic when sliced its fun to share at potlucks.
  • 6 bell peppers
  • olive oil as needed
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1½ lbs crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
    Preheat oven to 450 degress. Rub bell peppers with olive oil and roast until their skins have blackened. Remove, cover with a damp cloth and set aside for an hour. Remove pepper skins and cut peppers into quarters. Meanwhile, boil potatoes until tender. Slice potatoes. Blend feta with yogurt and mix in olive oil. Line a terrine with cling film and cover the bottom with half the bell pepper, half the feta mix and potatoes. Layer with remaining feta and bell pepper, seal with cling film, refrigerate 4 hours.

  • ¼ cup red vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • ½ cup pine nuts - toasted
  • 1 clove garlic - crushed
    Whisk together vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, slowly incorporate olive oil, whisking all the time. Add currants, pine nuts and garlic. Set aside for an hour to allow flavors to develop. Unmold terrine onto serving plate, serve with dressing. Serves 8

English Blue Cheese, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Potato Soup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs
  • 2 medium potatoes - cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • splash of white wine
  • salt and pepper
    Melt butter in saucepan add onion and garlic, cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add flour and cook a few minutes. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a simmer and cook stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add cheese and herbs; continue to stir until cheese melts. Set aside. Meanwhile cook potatoes in stock adding cauliflower and broccoli after 10 minutes. Cook 5 minutes then add to soup Reheat soup thoroughly but gently before serving. Add a splash of wine and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Italian Caponata
The acidity of this dish gives it a long life, and it has been speculated that it originated from seafarers. Speaking of long lives, peppers-red, green yellow orange-all came individually shrink-wrapped in the grocery store in Spitsbergen and sold by weight, (you even pay for the weight of the plastic) they weighed in at $5US a lb. When I opened the bag of vegetables from Live and Cecilia, I discovered a heap of tomatoes and a fabulous shiny eggplant. As a break from spuds, I made caponata not even minding that a precious fresh red pepper was sacrificed.
  • 2 eggplants (about 2 lbs) cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 4 canned anchovies - chopped
  • 3 tomatoes - chopped
  • 2 celery stalks - sliced
  • 1 red pepper - diced
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced, plump, sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 18 green olives - pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons - chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons - chopped Italian parsley
    Toss eggplant in a colander with salt. Let it drain for 30 minutes, rinse and squeeze dry. Heat 1/3 cup oil in skillet, brown eggplant in batches; 8 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Add more oil, and cook onion with anchovies until soft; 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, celery, and red pepper; cook 6 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, and sun-dried tomatoes; cook 4 minutes. Add capers, pine nuts, raisins, olives then eggplant; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and toss with basil and parsley.

As Christmas approaches I find myself thinking of my family and friends. I guess mum will be having pavlova at the new batch this Christmas day. As my mind wanders the globe it pauses at Norway's Lofoten Islands - a 160 km chain of rearing mountains around 68 degrees north. I wonder if Gry replenished her Christmas cloud berry supply? Will Erling be making bacalao? Is Ingvild drawing?

I'd first heard of the Lofotens when I was cruising Fiji in 1998. There I met Gry, Erling and their young daughter Ingvild aboard Morild, their 45'steel cutter. Although their homeport was Tromso, Norway they considered the Lofotens home, saying they planned to return there some day. Four years later we sailed through the Lofotens on first trip to Spitsbergen and I caught up with Gry over a relaxed impromptu dinner at her small cottage. She was sorely missing Erling and counting down the days until he would be sailing home - eight months and 15,000 miles. Gry and Ingvild had flown home from Hawaii so that Ingvild could start school, while meantime Erling was a fulfilling a life dream of sailing to Cape Horn and Antarctica, then home.

That night Gry gave me her Norwegian cheese slicer, which is still going strong, and introduced me to the local salted shrimp sold in small and large containers throughout Norway. This dish soon became an easy favorite for John and me.

Warm Shrimp Toast for Two
  • 4 slices of toasted bread
  • 1 ½ cups shrimp
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons chopped ginger
  • 1 small strong chili
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • salt and pepper

    Blend shrimps with egg whites, ginger, chili, garlic olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread mixture on the slices of toast. Heat a little oil in a pan and sauté the toast, shrimp side down until golden. Turn and place on a rack in a pre heated oven for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

This summer as we again cruised the Lofotens we magically caught up with the Baera family. After a cruise to Spitsbergen they'd sold Morild to invest in a house and Ingvild's education but once she's at college Gry and Erling have plans to continue cruising. They haven't totally given up the water. Gry collected us in her powerful sturdy aluminum runabout to take us back to the house for dinner. With a huge smile on her face she thrilled at zipping us along 35 knots in comparison to Morlid's 7 knots. She'd gotten the runabout to commute to work after she kept getting speeding tickets in her car.

This is the first house they've owned. Gry and Erling married young and lived in a tent while they built their first boat - a traditional Colin Archer which they'd sail around the world. They then purchased Morild in Australia and had cruised aboard her for 6 years.

We entered the house through a tidy planted courtyard. Under the porch neat wooden racks are stacked with all the necessary toys for high latitude island living; assorted skis, kayaks, bikes, wetsuits and serious workout equipment rigged with yacht tackle. Six huge cod fish filets, caught by a friend, hang to dry further. In the mud room, where we removed our shoes, souvenir wildlife posters line the wall; Beware of Polar Bears, Antarctic Guide to Penguins, Whales of the Azores. The room opens up into an open plan lounge and dinning room with sweeping views across Vestfjord to the jagged northern islands.

"I'm sure you never tire of this amazing view," I commented.
"You're right. Even during the 3 months of 24 hour winter darkness it's lovely to watch the moon travel across the sky and the northern lights are really spectacular against the snowy peaks of the Lofoten wall," replies Gry.

An aromatic smell wafts from the side kitchen. It comes from a large pot simmering on a stove with has a backboard of glass. Pinned behind the glass large photos of their sailing voyages are displayed mixed with drawings by Ingvild. A picture of torsk or cod fish is one of Gry's favorite.

Cod - big and strong, swimming fast in the big ocean, cod.

Erling works as a Norwegian airforce helicopter rescue swimmer/medic and enjoys cooking in his time off. Today, after guiding a mountain climbing group up a local peak, he has made bacalao - a traditional Lofoten dish that has Portuguese origins. I ask for Erling's recipe and he thinks a while before recalling it from memory, showing me the ingredients when translation from Norwegian fails. From the bright yellow fridge I'm surprised to see Erling produce large fresh chilies, and then I remember he's a world traveler. "If a Portuguese woman wants to get married, tradition has it that she has to have a bacalao recipe for every day of the year," remarks Erling.

  • 1 1/2 lbs dry salted cod
  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes
  • 4 onions
  • 2 red hot chilies or 4 mild green chilies
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves

    Soak cod in water for 24 hours, changing the water a few times. Peel potatoes and slice them different thickness from thick to thin. In a large pan make multiple layers with the ingredients starting with oil then thick potatoes, olives, garlic, fish, onion and tomatoes and continue ending with the thinly sliced potatoes near the top. Heat the pot until it bubbles then let it slow simmer on low heat for 1 ½ hours until potatoes are soft. Every so often shake the pot but not stir it. Serve with hot crusty brown bread and red wine or beer. Great as leftovers.

Gry boils the kettle, to help us warm up from the boat ride, and asks me to select a tea from the top drawer. "Wow this slides easily", I say as I open the kitchen draw only to slide it back and forth.
"Only a cruiser would notice that", she replies.
In helping set the table for dinner I notice the many treasures of a home. Jars of sea shells sit next to shopping list on the bench top and high on the beam a resin mold for rock climbing practice is bolted - it matches the bright yellow fridge. Granite rocks from Spitsbergen are inlaid into the middle of the wooden dinning table that Erling built, they serve as a hot pad for the bacalao.

While the sun hangs high in the sky for the night we share a wonderful meal as stories are swapped around the table. When we head back to Mahina Tiare Gry hands me a container full of frozen cloud berries from her freezer. She has picked them during her many autumn high country treks and tells me where to look for them further up the coast later in the season. In August on our return from Spitsbergen I find cloud berries in Sommaroy and enjoy them for dessert after making Gry's Thai salmon. She originally gave me this recipe to be used with whale instead of salmon.

Noodly Thai Salmon and Vegetables
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon in small cubes
  • 2 red onions or leeks - chopped
  • 5 red chilies - diced small
  • 1 chunk ginger - grated
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 carrots - julienned
  • 1cup cashew nuts - toasted
  • 1 lb noodles - cooked
  • Oyster or Soya sauce to taste

    Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add salmon and sauté until done. Remove from pan and keep warn. Add vegetables, chili and ginger to pan and cook until just tender. Add noodles and heat through. Gently stir in salmon and cashews adding oyster sauce to taste. Serves 4

Now its winter there and the days are dark and snowy, Erling is bound to have made bacalao. I hope Gry is making traditional Christmas crum cakes to be filled with cloud berry cream, and Ingvild draws more pictures.

Crum Cakes
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3-4 teaspoons cold water

    Mix all ingredients together to make a batter. Cakes should be cooked in a special iron, but can be made as thin crepes in a pan. While crepes are warm, roll them up over a small wooden cone to harden. Fill cones with cloud berry cream.

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