July 01, 2006
From Ithakas Galley Our Daily Bread
By Bernadette Bernon
To be surrounded by talent and resourcefulness is sometimes overwhelming. At this moment, anchored nearby Ithaka, are Que Linda and Sand Dollar. I’ve learned much from friends on these two boats. From Lisa, for instance, I learned to string pearls, and make beautiful necklaces and earrings from handmade beads we found together in Cartagena. When my mother-in-law died last January, and left me her two strings of pearls, I thought of Lisa, and tucked them away on Ithaka so that I could show them to her, and so that we could brainstorm together how to refashion them. Both necklaces were treasured by Betty, my mother-in-law, but the strings were deteriorated, and I feared wearing them in case they broke. I looked forward to sitting in the cockpit of Sand Dollar with my talented friend, so that she and I could work on them together, and now I have a spectacular new necklace from Douglas’s mother, made of her pearls and combined with new ones in different hues. It’s dramatic, and has even more sentimental value than it had before, because Lisa helped me recreate it.
Meanwhile, over on Que Linda, we have Linda, a talented seamstress, athlete, and a great baker. To go out snorkeling with Linda means that you push yourself. As we’ve spent time together over the past two seasons our swimming excursions have gotten longer and longer, until I found myself swimming a mile or more, and thinking nothing about it. We’d pick an island in the distance and just head for it – no dinghy required. After a month of watching this, Lisa joined us on one of our watery marathons, with trepidation. Within a few excursions, however, first slowly, then building up to a comfortable amble, the three of us were swimming long-distance and exploring the reefs together every day. Thanks to Linda, I’ve never felt so healthy.
Lisa, Linda, and I have water-colored together, sewn together – ironically, each of us has a restored 1950s-era, German, Pfaff industrial machine -- made mola pillows together, repaired canvas together, and generally helped each other with whatever was going on. One day, Lisa and I asked Linda to show us how she made the bread we often lusted after if we happened to be on Que Linda when a hot loaf was coming out of the oven.
“Next time I make a loaf,” she’d said, “I’ll call you.” When the day arrived, Linda hailed us on the VHF, told us she was about to fire up a loaf, we zoomed over in the dinghy, then passed a fun couple of hours following her lead, kneading, taking notes, sitting around talking during the risings, and finally popping the loaf pans in the oven. These moments with cruising friends, when we teach each other something new, are precious.
Linda was right. The bread recipe is simple and relatively fool proof. Here it is, as well as a few other ideas from cruising friends for simple breads, hearty granola, and a great show-stopping dessert. Buen Provecho from the San Blas Islands, from our friends to yours!
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of yeast
1-cup whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1.5 teaspoons of salt
1-tablespoon caraway seeds
Heat water to 110º Fahrenheit. In a bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. After yeast bubbles for a minute or so, which means it’s healthy and active, add the flour, salt, seeds, and any other ingredients you like. Knead for 5 minutes. Let it rise about an hour. (Linda uses a large Tupperware bowl with a lid, doesn’t oil the loaf and just leaves it in the sealed container. By the way, this is the same container she uses for mixing the ingredients, so the clean up in this recipe is minimal.) After the dough has risen, you “punch it down,” which means you use your fist to press down all over the dough, to burst any air pockets. Next, form the dough into a loaf, put it in a bread pan, let it rise again for half an hour and finally bake it for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Anyone who’s been cruising will tell you that real nirvana is found in that moment a loaf of fresh bread, still hot from the oven, is cut, buttered, and bitten into.
Simple Bacon Cheddar Corn Bread from Ithaka
1-cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup corn meal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons of salt
Pinch of cayenne
2/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
2/3 cup corn kernels (I use one small can of corn kernels.)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese, or Parmesan, or any flavorful cheese
¼ cup chopped scallions (If scallions aren’t available where you’re cruising, just use finely chopped onions)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (It’s easier to use pre-cooked bacon bits, which store easily aboard.)
This is a great accompaniment to soups. Heat the oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne. In small bowl, whisk milk, oil, and egg. Add milk mixture to flour mixture until evenly moistened. Fold in corn, cheese, onion, and bacon. Pour into pan, and spread to edges. Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and begins to crack slightly. Remove to cooling rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
1-teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup fruit juice concentrate (optional)
5 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup nuts
½ cup flax
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup nuts broken into bits
1-cup raisins or dried fruit such as craisins or blueberries (add after baking)
Combine honey, oil, and juice in a saucepan. Heat over medium until honey dissolves. Mix all the dry ingredients (except fruit) in large bowl. Pour on the hot liquid and stir. (If granola looks a bit dry, heat a bit more of the vegetable oil and honey mixture, add to grains, and stir again.) Spread on baking sheet, no more than ¼ –inch thick. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and brown, at 350º Fahrenheit. Or, use a frying pan, and brown. Let cool. Stir in dried fruit.
Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce from Katie on Asylum
For the pudding:
1 loaf of stale French bread, crumbled
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 cup raisins, soaked in bourbon or rum
1 cup chopped pecans (roasted, if you feel inspired)
For the whiskey sauce:
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
½ cup bourbon (or rum, if you like)
We enjoyed this exquisite, myocardial-infarction inducing dessert on Asylum one night, and Katie’s recipe immediately went into my keeper file. In the San Blas, instead of French bread (only available in your dreams!) we use white Kuna bread, which works well, and is widely available in most Kuna villages. Any bread will do.
For the pudding, put crumbled bread in large bowl. Mix cinnamon and nutmeg with milk and pour over the bread. Let sit one hour. Preheat oven to 325º F. Grease 9x13-inch pan with the butter. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in bourbon-soaked raisins and pecans. Stir mixture into bread. Pour into baking pan and bake until browned and set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool a little. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
For the whiskey sauce, over low heat cream together butter and sugar till sugar is absorbed. Remove from heat. Blend in egg yolk. Gradually add bourbon, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens and cools. Serve over warm pudding. Serves 8.