Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This inning, strike out for Ship's Chief Officer In Charge of Food.

In almost any book of more than 3 chapters touting itself as a comprehensive guide to the cruising life, there is at least one chapter dedicated to provisioning, meal planning, and the importance of food in the life aboard on long passages. Even a specialized book we have on Heavy Weather Sailing tactics dedicated two pages to remind the captain that food is a key to maintaining morale high when the barometer is plummeting. My two cruising cookbooks stress this same point as well.
Consequently, I have taken my position quite seriously and, with a solid foundation to stand on, dedicatedly loaded tins of cookies for when the weather was inclement and I couldn't bake. I included numerous tempting and health snacks such as varieties of salted nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter. Over 40 pounds of white and whole grain flours came aboard for baking breads, cakes, pancakes, crepes, waffles, fruit crisps, muffins, and other comforting deliciousness while under way. Tins of ingredients for hot savory 5-minute meals in one pot are stowed as an emotional security. Just the sight of all this food has the power to boost a hungry sailor's flagging spirits. NO crew of mine was going to suffer from boredom and low morale as a result of an unappetizing menu.

Yesterday morning drug us into the day after a night of long sail adjustments, loud flogging sails, noisy rigging, off and on rain, wind fluctuations and unpleasant wave tossing. It hadn't been a perilous or stamina draining storm, we just hadn't gotten much sleep and we were uncomfortable. Morale-Boosting Ship's Food Officer to the rescue! I decided that waffles were on the morning menu. With the engine running, we had plenty of power to run a superfluous electronic gadget and waffles are Brian's favorite breakfast food. I pulled out my Crème de Colorado cookbook and in between bracing myself between cabinets and keeping the mixing bowl upright on the counter, whipped together our favorite Buckwheat Pecan Waffle recipe (substituting whole wheat for buckwheat flour).

[Sidenote: Just because I'm the Head Cook doesn't mean that I'm the only cook. Especially when we're under way, Brian frequently makes at least one meal per day even if I'm not seasick. Often, I'll prepare the meal and Brian will cook it. This was the case yesterday]

I retrieved the waffle maker from it's deep resting place behind the plastic tubs of tea bags and placed it on the counter. Brian's turn. He plugged in the extension cord, turned on the power inverter. I could feel the morale climbing already. As soon as the first crispy steaming breakfast treat landed on its plate, I would have accomplished my goal, beaten the spirit-draining ocean. Instead, I was greeted to a yell by Brian. What could have possibly happened? I jumped from my smug position at the table and looked into the already steaming waffle iron he was holding open. Oh NO. The remains of a waffle from our last session were in an advanced state of decay. Blue-green spores and brown powdery stuff had already diminished the thickness of the former waffle. It had been in there at least 2 months. Strike out! No waffles, no morale boost. Instead, Brian spent almost an hour on deck, picking moldy waffle bits and dropping them overboard.

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