May 1, 2004 Newport, Rhode Island
41° 29.325 North
071° 19.319 West
By Bernadette Bernon
The aroma of a turkey roasting
in the oven has got to be one of the most comforting sensations, evoking
yummy images of tangy homemade cranberry sauce, tureens
of rich gravy, and gatherings of family and friends around a laden table. I
crave many things while we’re anchored out at reefs or making passages
while cruising – a cheddar-cheeseburger cooked medium rare, a good haircut,
sparkling water, space, yuppie-quality crackers, and roast turkey with all
the fixings, just to name a few. Or at least I thought I did. To be more precise,
regarding the turkey anyway, it probably was the snug surroundings, and feelings
of belonging that I craved as much as the food itself.
Across the street from our house are topiary animals covered in snow during the coldest winter in recent history.
So as soon as Douglas and
I cleared off the boat this past winter, and moved into this cozy Newport
house for our winter-work sojourn and Ithaka’s
refit, I headed to our local market, bought a bird, and got down to business.
Now, a few month later, as winter gasps its last, Ithaka is looking spiffy
again, and daffodils have burst out from everyone’s front gardens, I
look back over the past few months and can almost measure the time in the mini-Thanksgiving
feasts I’ve prepared. We’ve had a turkey in the oven every three
or four weeks, always followed for a few days by the glories of leftovers and
soups I’ve simmered. In New England we’ve had the coldest winter
in history, and it’s been those soups that have kept Douglas warmed up
as he worked on Ithaka installing new gear, and chugging through our “to
do” list like a freight train.
Ithakas winter shrink wrap came off this week, so we could paint her bottom, apply a new stripe, and buff the hull and topsides.
Lately, I’ve been especially busy with sewing projects, and stocking
up the boat with all the odds and ends required by the cruising life -- easy
to do now, while we have one foot on land, harder to accomplish once we’ve
cut the ties again. I’ve been vacuum packing everything from favorite
chai teas and ground flax seeds, to updated medical supplies and kosher salt.
The vacuum packer is a new addition to my repertoire, and already I’m
hooked on it and the storage space it’s opening up on Ithaka. We’re
going to need fewer airtight containers now, which were more difficult to store
efficiently in Ithaka’s lockers.
For good quality canned meats, perfect for the long-distance cruiser who doesnt have a large refrigerator capacity, try Brinkman Farms canned meats.
Another great provisioning
discovery I’ve made just recently, thanks
to fellow cruising friend Diane Rousseau aboard the Baltic 43 Persistence,
is an excellent variety of canned meat, chicken, pork, and (be still my heart)
turkey, made by a company in Ohio named Brinkman Farms: www.brinkmanfarms.com.
The quality is miles ahead of the brands in the supermarket (real chunks of
meat) and the price is competitive.
Roasted tomatoes Bruschetta
If it isn’t already obvious, this winter seemed to find me focusing
on food, and hanging out with some of my foodie boat friends, such as Lori
Ross in Annapolis,
Maryland, to whom I owe a culinary debt of gratitude; she
taught me how to make Szechwan Green Beans, and also an unforgettable Roasted
Tomato Bruschetta. I’ve made each of those dishes almost as many times
this winter as I’ve made the turkeys. They are huge hits. And the tomatoes
have the added benefit of being a good boat recipe for spring cruising, when
you might want to keep the cabin heated up a bit in the evening by a longer
baking time. (I’ve included the recipes below.)
At Loris house earlier in the season, just outside Annapolis, we set up the display of molas, and invited lots of friends over to browse.
One of my favorite reunions
recently was with my good friend Lynda Childress, with whom I went to high
school. Then we worked together at Cruising World
for over 20 years. She was the managing editor (a job similar to herding cats,
but on an executive level) and escaped shortly after I did,
to marry her partner
Kostas Ghiokas and move to Greece, where they now own and run a luxury 70-foot
charter yacht – a dream come true for them both. Lynda is still the Food
Editor for Cruising World, and the woman is an inspiration in the galley. As
we cooked and ate during her visit home to Newport, I loved hearing about her
life in Greece, the colorful family she married into, and the wonderful islands
she now knows like the back of her hand. Greece remains one of my favorite
places in the world – Douglas and I chartered there three times, and
it was in Crete that we got engaged 14 years ago. Hearing about her adventures
made my mouth water to return. Learn more about chartering in Greece with Lynda
and Kostas by checking out their website: www.greecesailingcharters.com. It
includes pictures of their sleek boat, sample itineraries and menus, bios on
each of them, date availability, pricing, and details on the Olympics this
Lynda and Kostas
This week, I’m planning to make Lynda’s simple recipe for moussaka
for a big group of friends, and friends of friends, who I’ve invited
over. I’m having a Mola Party, to show our (rather humongous) collection
of handmade molas from the San Blas Islands of Panama, hopefully sell some,
and in so doing raise money for Kuna Indian health and education charities.
I’ll let you know how it goes next time I write. (Meanwhile, Lynda’s
moussaka recipe is included below.)
My cravings for turkey were satiated this winter. This scene was painted on a wall in Nargana, in the San Blas Islands of Panama.
For Douglas and me, last
night’s roast turkey was probably our last
for awhile. We’re smack dab in the middle of moving back onto Ithaka
over the next two weeks, and our onboard oven, and the long cooking time required
for a turkey, is no place for such culinary maneuvering. So this was it. My
brother Mark and his wife Gina came over. Their 4-year-old daughter was already
here; Hannah and I have had a standing date that we spend every Thursday afternoon
together playing and doing projects. So yesterday, after we acted out stories
around her usual favorite title – “Hannah And Auntie’s Big
Adventures On The Farm, In The Forest, And In The World” -- she acquiesced
to being my assistant in the kitchen.
Dinner was cozy, Gina made
a strawberry shortcake for dessert, Hannah put candles on it – another new tradition for every dessert she and I have
served this winter; we dimmed the lights and sang, in her words, “Happy
Birfday to everybody!”
As Douglas and I restock
the boat, and haul all our gear out of the basement again, we find that we
are looking more toward the open seas these days. The
cravings we feel -- for family, old friends, and favorite foods – are
always there when you’re cruising. Sometimes I temporarily satisfy myself
with a long-distance phone call home on somebody’s birfday, or just to
say hello. But then over time, the cravings for more connection become too
strong, and only one thing satisfies that hunger – real time with the
people we love. For us, we try to balance both; cruising has made our time
at home all the sweeter and more satisfying.
Slow-Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
the simplest, most savory recipe I’ve seen in
ages. Everyone who’s tasted it has raved about it, and
asked me for the recipe. It couldn’t be easier to make,
or more delicious.
15 plum tomatoes
kosher salt and ground pepper
herbes de Provence (optional)
On a cookie
sheet lined with aluminum foil, drizzle some olive oil and
spread around. Slice tomatoes lengthwise and lay them
face down on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can
add garlic and other herbs if you like, but it’s not
even necessary. (If the tomatoes are winter hard, and don’t
have the sweetness of summer tomatoes, just sprinkle with a
tiny bit of sugar to facilitate caramelizing.) Bake in a 300-degree
oven for one hour. Turn off the oven and leave the tomatoes
inside for another hour. The tomatoes should wrinkle up and
caramelize along the edges. Place a tomato half on toasted
bread to make bruschetta. Keep leftovers in the fridge; they’re
great on sandwiches.
a savory traditional Greek dish that resembles a lasagna
in its assembly, but the flavors are all its own. Don’t
be afraid to use plenty of garlic, as the flavor softens in
2 small eggplants or one large
4 medium potatoes
a large can of peeled tomatoes
1/3 cup oil
2 chopped onions
1 bay leaf
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
oil for frying the eggplants
kosher salt (the large granules add wonderful bursts of flavor
(Here’s a great tip: Instead of laboring
over a complicated white sauce, use a béchamel or white-sauce
mix, and just add liberal amounts of freshly ground nutmeg
into circles, and fry. Peel and slice potatoes thinly, and
fry. Set aside on paper towels. Sauté onions
and garlic, add minced lamb, and stir for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes,
reduce heat, and simmer for a half hour.
In a buttered baking dish, layer potatoes, then half the meat
mixture, then half the cheese, then another layer of potatoes,
then a layer of eggplant, another layer of the meat mixture,
and the remainder of the cheese.
Make the white sauce following instructions on the packet
(and add nutmeg and cinnamon). Pour the sauce over the moussaka.
Bake 40 minutes, till browned. Remove from oven and let it
sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with the kosher
salt (adding it at the end intensifies the flavor), grind pepper
over it, and serve. Serves 6.
Szechwan Green Beans
vegetable side dish makes a terrific accompaniment to a simple
main course, it’s beautiful, and it’s
loaded with flavor.
4 tablespoons Chinese sesame oil
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
of garlic, minced (Use the entire amount. Don’t
crushed hot red pepper to taste, for a terrific spike of flavor
Place deep skillet or wok over medium heat/high heat for one
minute, then add oil. Wait one minute. Add beans. Turn heat
to high and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until beans are
well seared. Add garlic, hot pepper, kosher salt, and stir-fry
for another couple of minutes. Serve hot.