At weekends, we BBQ

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Our chief engineer is, quite truly, something of a genius. Each time we go into dry dock at a shipyard for any extended period of time, Hamish takes it upon himself to build a barbecue that would rival any leading model sold in Homebase. This particular time, he made it out of some sort of steel drum, affixing the legs, grate and lid all by himself. Rather impressive, wouldn’t you say?

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With no owners or guests onboard, we all work Monday to Friday, with weekends off. So during the week, usually from about Wednesday onwards, I must start thinking about putting together some ‘weekend food’. It most often comprises four main dishes with sides, all tubbed up, labelled and put in the fridge for people to help themselves to. But this miracle barbecue has lightened not only my life, but my workload too. Using it for dinner on both days is such a treat, as all I have to think about is defrosting some meat.

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But that’s sort of a lie, because seeing as though Ollie lives in Australia and loves all things barbecue, I happily let him take the reins. This gives me more time to bake.

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White chocolate brownies, aka, blondies. These are different to the usual ones I make, in that the batter incorporates melted white chocolate, rather than just stirring white chocolate chips through a chocolate-free mix. This batch was ultimately better in every which way. The middle was dense and fudgy, as a brownie should be, but you still get a hefty white chocolate hit with the generous drizzle over the top.

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Myself and Heather donned the men’s safety jackets (smelling a little musty, but keeping us warm and protecting us from the heavy rain), and set to making some mulled wine.

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Smores. Enough said.

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Chai tiramisu. On the day we were getting our two fridges and one freezer replaced in the galley, it was my job to hunker down in the dry stores, clear everything out, give it a good clean, and put everything back in a sensible and tidy order. Our dry stores aren’t exactly huge, but boy oh boy can you fit a lot in there. It is, no joke, like having a mini supermarket onboard. Clearing one shelf took me about half an hour, and there were about twelve to get through all in all. So I did what I had been meaning to do for a really long time, and started listening to the number one podcast of the moment, ‘My dad wrote a porno’. (Big thanks to Al Konstam for the recommendation). If you haven’t listened to this already, I implore you to do so. It had me in stitches for the entire day.

But I digress. In clearing the cupboards, there were a couple of discoveries that gave me the heebie jeebies. Weevils. Inside the pasta. It turns out that when we, innocent people, buy pasta, weevils have actually laid their eggs in the flour that has been used. So these hemetically sealed packages end up containing live creepy crawlies, if you keep them for months on end. This happens a lot on yachts, what with preparations for crossings, extended periods of time away from shops, basically you have no choice but to stock up. It’s unavoidable. What doesn’t help though, is that my predecessor clearly hadn’t cleared out the dry stores in years. I uncovered sushi rolling papers that expired in 2014, refried beans from 2012, she obviously hadn’t reached deep in far too long a time.

But again, I digress. Having found packets of lady fingers that expired just a mere few months ago, I decided while doing the 8am-10pm watch on Sunday to make a tiramisu. But with no head chef around to ask, I assumed it would be wrong to use hard drink in a dessert that would be served the following day to workers on a strictly ‘dry’ boat. So myself and Maria found a wonderful recipe for a chai flavoured tiramisu. You soak the lady fingers in a home brewed chai tea, instead of dark rum and coffee.

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It worked a treat, but sadly didn’t have quite the warm reception we were hoping for. Nobody could get their head around the idea of a tiramisu that looks like a traditional one, but tastes very strongly of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. We have since been sharing it out between us, being its loving creators, and I’m determined not to let this stop me from experimenting.

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My first ever attempt at sushi making (using in-date paper, do not fret). After a morning of intense shopping, myself and Ollie push push pushed to get this elaborate Japanese style lunch out on time. The only thing anyone said as we laid down the fruits of our labour was, ‘Is there only one type of sushi?’ You would be forgiven for thinking that this crew may be ever so slightly spoilt.

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Raw pad thai. Spiralised courgettes, carrots & radish, with edamame beans and a peanut and lime dressing.

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Roasted belly pork. There is one lone rib next to it because the photo was taken whilst Ollie was transferring from chopping board to plate.

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Brie, apple, cranberry & caramelised onion puff pastry tart.

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Butternut squash, kale & stilton gratin. But I used pumpkin, and a different blue cheese, as that was all I could find in the Carrefour. My wonderful Aunty and Uncle brought some recipes over to Jersey recently, to give to my mum to give to me. This one had ‘yum’ written on it, on an orange sticky, so it’s the first I’ve made.

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It was beautiful, a real winter warmer. Everyone lapped it up, especially Dylan, who had otherwise never tried blue cheese before. A success, and I can’t wait to try the other recommendations.

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Cauliflower & asparagus pearl barley salad with pine nuts.

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Shredded winter salad, giving me practice on the ole’ mandalin, a simply terrifying piece of machinery.

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Carrot, orange, yellow raisin & coconut salad. A favourite of mine, combining all the flavours that I love. Weirdly enough, the recipe is from a salad book by the Reader’s Digest, that I found knocking around the head chef’s shelves.

We’re ‘floating’ on Friday, meaning our boat will be put back in the water and all safety related things tested. Obviously we’re hoping there are no holes in the hull. But in all seriousness, a really scary thing actually happened the other day. All the extra workers we have coming in during the day are working underneath the boat, and something went wrong, resulting in one poor man breaking an arm, a leg, and with lacerations up his shoulder. The ambulance was called, there was a bit of confusion with how it actually happened, and we were all given a talk about ensuring we stick to proper safety precautions. For me, I suppose it means not leaving an oven on. But the thought of four weeks at sea on a relatively small boat is rather a daunting one, for someone who has no idea about boats and is more interested in baking cakes. We will be doing lots of fire drills, man overboard drills, all that lark, in the days leading up to our departure. In the meantime, we are making good use of Reiner’s container (Reiner is a German carpenter, who as well as being a perfectionist in his job, loves a few beers after work). Myself and Maria went up to the top of the black box in the roaring wind and snapped a picture of Solandge, a pretty sleek boat that’s next to us at the moment. I can’t help but think of Beyonce’s sister whenever I see it.

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