Cooking in Meyer’s Chuck

6-AUG-2017, Meyer’s Chuck, AK – I get asked often about what we eat aboard, about what we eat and what we cook when we’re ashore.

We don’t use prepared foods, including bread, and on board we have no refrigeration – though we occasionally buy ice. The ice allows us to have fresh meat and fish until it melts. (It is worth mentioning that even fresh meat and fish will keep for a few days without refrigeration – Remember the Ben Franklin quote about guests and fish, both stink after three days.)

I’m working on a ‘‘simplest’’ bread video for our friend Heath, which I’ll post on YouTube in a day or two. I also outlined a 13-part cooking show, which I abandoned as too much like work. Perhaps I’ll dust it off.

At Jennifer’s urging I’ve started to keep a food journal so that we can go back to things that I’ve cooked that we both liked.

Cooking is nothing but chemistry and developing an understanding of what flavors you, the cook, enjoy together.

You might find interesting how brunch today worked out.

We tied to a park service float in Frosty Bay last night. We repaired the ripped out cleat – see the post for yesterday, made dinner and got to sleep by ten.

The alarm went off a 4 am this morning, so I could make coffee for Jennifer, get the engine bled and be ready to leave by 4:30. There would be a 2-knot current against us by 10 am, so we wanted to get an early start to get to Meyer’s Chuck.

As it has worked out, the current did not show up as a predicted and we were in Meyer’s Chuck by 9.30, rather than closer to noon.

Jennifer had a small bowl of raisin bran and some store-bought Zoi honey-flavored yogurt.

Keeping yogurt we make ourselves on the boat has been too difficult without refrigeration. Store-bought yogurt comes sealed against bacteria and keeps a long time before we open it.

We were on the dock by 9.30, which sounded like the opportunity for brunch.

The trick is to cook from whatever we have on board.

Today, we have more fresh than normal because we were in Wrangell a few days ago where we picked up a block of ice. We also did more of Jennifer’s favorite way to catch fish: A fisherman asked if I would like some (hot) smoked salmon, I said yes. He tossed me a plastic bag with more than 2 pounds (1kg) of smoked salmon, which I caught.

We also bought a pound of cheap bacon that was on sale at the Wrangell IGA. It needs to get used, so I started frying six slices of it. Both burners on the stove are working today, low, but working.

While the bacon was frying I heated water for Jennifer’s and Hilary’s coffee.

We couldn’t get Hilary to use the bathroom, so we’d have a wet settee soon, but that was an hour into the future.

Yesterday I screwed up a loaf of whole-wheat bran. It had been a trying day, with a cleat torn out of the deck of the boat. The bread had risen twice, in fact over-risen, so I punched it down again, rose it, and then baked it while we motored. I was impatient and pulled the bread from the oven before it was completely cooked.

After Jennifer made coffee, I finished cooking individual slices of bread on the hot stove lid for the burner I was not using. Hilary ate the first two slices from the serving plate on the main cabin table.

I wanted some fruit with the brunch.

A week or so ago, in Petersburg, I had bought two of the largest apples I have ever seen. The per-pound price was very good. The first apple was a bit beyond ripe, so I decided to cook this apple in slices in the bacon fat, without first tasting it. After I had most of the apple’s in the fat cooking, I tasted one of the slices left on the cutting board. It was very sweet and wonderful. It was waste to cook it.

I planned to serve the cooked apples with ricotta we made from some milk that was near going over. We made ricotta from the milk some yogurt and lime juice a week or so ago. When I tasted the ricotta it was too close to being bad to eat fresh, so I put it aside. I figured the apples with some jam might work or just alone as a side. Instead, I separately fried a sliced not-quite-ripe banana in the remaining bacon fat.

Initially, the bananas will quickly turn to mush, but if left to cook they firm up and the sugar inside the banana will caramelize and actually get hard.

There was about 12 ounces of ricotta left, which I really did not want to pitch out. I drained the ricotta well, added some flour – about 1-1/2 tablespoons – and an egg, mixed well and placed into the small amount of remaining bacon fat as three three-inch pancakes.

The stove is cooking quite slow. Jennifer has been standing in the cockpit speaking with me and Hilary has been moving around the cabin speaking to non-existent people mostly, and looking to swipe food from the serving plates, which we keep moving about so they will make it to the table.

As Jennifer and I spoke, I finished ‘‘toasting’’ the six pieces of bread I wanted to get onto the table, meaning I had made eight total.

The ricotta pancakes looked watery to be honest, I was pretty sure we’d end up with an amorphous mess, so I let them sit as long as I dared, hoping the liquid would cook off. Instead, when I flipped the pancakes, they held together well and were lightly browned on the frying-pan side.

‘‘How many eggs?’’ I asked Jennifer, she answered one. When I asked Hilary she responded, ‘‘Three.’’ I asked, ‘‘Will you eat that many?’’ When questioned these days, Hilary gets a bit huffy. She responded that she could eat six.

Jennifer said, ‘‘make two.’’ Hilary did not understand that this comment referred to her.

By now I had used up all the bacon fat from the six slices and added a little more from the jar on the shelf – yep, sometimes we eat high-fat. We’ve decided to solely eat fats that melt at body temperature or below.

The frying pan was barely at frying temperature as I broke eggs into it, one handed. I messed up the fourth egg, breaking the yolk open as it fell into the pan. The pan was cold enough that the egg slid across the other three. I decided to make scrambled eggs, as I added a fifth egg with an intact yolk.

I like scrambled eggs with thyme added, but what I wanted something else today. Store-bought pre-shredded mozzarella is indestructible – it never seems to go bad.

In the icebox was five ounces of shredded mozzarella in bottom of a bag. I left the eggs cooking undisturbed so they would have some structure when scrambled.

I stirred the eggs then dumped the mozzarella en toto into the frying pan. The flame was low and would take a while to cook. The slower eggs cook, the better the results – Gently, always gently with eggs.

I started passing plates and such up into the cockpit along with plain yogurt, store-bought berry jam (we’d long ago run out of our own), and some lemon marmalade we’d made in Phoenix last winter.

We put plain yogurt on top of jam on bread and to offset very sweet things like, possibly, the apples and the bananas.

Jennifer called Hilary into the cockpit, who stood leaving a wet stain where she had been sitting. A change of clothing could take up to twenty minutes or more, so we did something we’d never done before: said nothing and got Hilary into the cockpit and onto the vinyl cushions without saying anything.

Eventually, we Jennifer got Hilary out of the wet clothes. But Hilary decided that she would wear nothing from the waist down, which she did for an hour before we went (fully clothed) for a walk.

Breakfast: Whole wheat toast, Bacon, fried apples, fried bananas, ricotta pancakes, eggs scrambled with Mozzarella served with plain yogurt, store-bought berry jam and homemade lemon marmalade.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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