Monday, February 25, 2013

under pressure.

One of the challenges we will be facing when we move aboard Interlude full time (and there will be many) is being contained. Very unlike we live now, our resources will be limited. We can only carry so much food, water, and fuel. Responsible and efficient usage of those resources is something I'm obsessed with being mindful of (now is the time I admit my cheapskatedness). 

A way that I am trying to make the best usage of one of our resources is in food prep. We have a very small oven and 4 very small burners that will use propane tanks. Interlude has two on the deck that will be filled before we leave and monitored incessantly while in port and underway. We love food and we love to eat well and if possible we want to get the most bang for our pounds per square inch of fuel. One way to do that is use a pressure cooker for items that would normally use a substantial amount of fuel/time to cook (various vegetables, more substantial cuts of meat, etc.) as well as eliminating the need to have the galley heated up for extended periods of time. 

You might think that it's weird that I am terrified of pressure cookers. I had heard horror stories of these things exploding or burning people from the women in my family from previous generations (my mom swears my grandma forgot she turned hers on and it burst open, not sure if I believe that but hey, caution never hurt anyone). Not only that, there was this major fear that the food would be over or undercooked, rendering the high pressure cooking pretty much worthless since you'd have to finish it off by other means anyway! So you can imagine my trepidation in giving it a test run. 

My lovely mother donated hers to my cause since hers had been sitting unused in the back of one of those unreachable corners of the kitchen cabinets. She even included the almost pristine cookbook/instructional guide it came equipped with. Guess she didn't do too much cooking with it but she did use it for canning and she tells me it cut green bean cooking time down to next to nothing.

My test subject was a chunk of pork loin I wanted to cook to a tender state and shred and coat with sauce to make barbecue pork. Instructions were pored over 5 times, equipment was checked and I was ready to go. I seasoned the pork, added enough liquid to cover the chunk of pork and fastened/locked the lid tightly in place. You are supposed to crank up the heat to high to get things going then adjust it to medium/low once the pressure control starts jiggling. It should only jiggle four times a minute at the correct temp, so there was a tiny bit of futzing around to get that happy medium. An hour later, I pulled it off the stove, ran it under cold water to release the pressure, took off the pressure controller, and opened her up. Voila. Perfect! 

I think I'll continue to do some experimenting with it just so I'm good and versed in the ins and outs of care and cooking times before we put it to the test on the boat. Next meal is going to be a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and I may even attempt a recipe I saw for pressure cooker cheesecake!?

Monday, February 11, 2013

strictly sail chicago.

For the first time since we've been going to Strictly Sail Chicago at Navy Pier, I was giddy. Sure, I'd always gone along but my heart wasn't really in it. There were always cool booths, gorgeous new boats to step aboard, interesting seminars to attend but when you don't have a boat, all you can do is long for the day when you were officially a boat person, not just an interested passerby. This was finally our year. Actually, our first, since I'm sure next year will be even more fruitful! The day was pretty much perfect. I only wish we could have come back for Sunday's seminars and demos.

Strictly Sail is the only all sailboat show in the midwest, and so, one of the best places to find a variety of services and goods for the avid sailor and his vessel. They bring in the best/most interesting speakers, authors, experts in a variety of areas and you can hear them speak and meet them afterwards. Some are your regular joe's who've taken up the cruiser lifestyle, some are pioneers in sailing around the world, and some literally wrote the book on cruising. 

Before we went, Josh looked at the speaker schedule and mapped out who we'd hear when, and we planned to walk the expo floor in between sessions. There were a few vendors we were specifically seeking out, Nature's Head and Air Head (more on those in a later post), West Marine, Larsen Marine (where we bought Interlude), and a few others. We got there as the doors were opening and had a little time before the first speaker so we wandered around the edges, planning our assault. It was packed!! The event spans Thursday-Sunday, and it seems Saturday is one of the busiest. We didn't mind the crowds though. 

We listened to a family who cruised around the world with their three kids, departing from Chicago as we plan to do; two well regarded female cruisers, Jimmy Cornell, and a few others. It was wonderful to hear tales from all these people but also frustrating to have to wait a few more months before we can get Interlude back into the water to start our own adventures. I'm revved up and ready to do more exploring and learning on our boat. Hurry up, May 1!

We picked up a few items at the vendor booths while we were there too. I got a foul weather gear coat (as seen above), some deck shoes (both from West Marine, who ALWAYS have super deals at the boat show), and our life vests/harnesses. I'll talk more about those once we start using them on the boat, but they are expensive ($150 a pop--on sale. Yikes!) and necessary. I'm always a happy girl when I get new shoes, so you know, all in all, a great outing.

Every year it's a wonderful expo and if you've got the curiosity, I highly recommend checking it out. There are plenty of sailors at all levels and opportunities to get more plugged in with the sailing community even if you don't have your own boat.