About Me

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I once wrote a book called "Voyaging on a Small Income", which sold astonishingly well and is probably the reason you have found this site! In case you didn't know, I have been living aboard and sailing boats since the early 70s. I am a great fan of the junk rig and wouldn't have any other sail on my boat. Between 2015 and 2021, I built the 26ft "FanShi", the boat I now call home. I am a vegetarian, by choice, of some 45 years and love cooking. I am combining all these interests (apart, perhaps, from junk rig!) in this blog. I hope you enjoy it. I also have another blog which you can find at www.anniehill.blogspot.com.

31 August 2022

Welcome to "The Voyaging Vegetarian"

Kia ora and welcome to The Voyaging Vegetarian.

For many years, I intended to write a book of this name, but for almost as many years, the number of people likely to be interested in it could be counted on the fingers of one hand.  However, thankfully people are becoming more aware about the plight of many of our farmed animals and the terrible burden they place on our planet, due to their biomass and food requirements, so I think its time has come.

I have decided to 'publish' the book in the form of a blog, because this makes it a lot easier to add recipes and enlarge on ideas as time goes by.  There are very few voyagers these days who have no mobile phone or tablet, and blog pages can be copied and pasted for use under way, so I hope it will be a user-friendly method.

How to use this blog


 

This blog is really divided into two parts: one part is related to boats and food, the other is simply the recipes.  With all the zillion of food blogs on the Internet, I doubt that anyone who isn't interested in boats is going to stumble across this, but by separating pages from posts, it means that should this unlikely event happen, voyagers can go to find information, but that anyone can go to find a recipe.

If you are interested in ideas around a voyager's galley, you will find an article about it, under Topics, as A Voyaging Galley.

If you want to find a pasta recipe, you can use the search function at the bottom of the post, click on pasta on the labels, or go to the list of Topics and have a rummage through Pasta, Potatoes, Rice, etc.  This last choice will also bring you to the topic with reference to voyaging.

Topics on Breakfast, Bread, Soups, Salads and other food categories will include different recipes, linked to posts in the blog, so you can simply go to this topic for a quick  look at what is available.

Recipes are usually pretty straightforward: I love cooking, but have limited resources in my boat galley, I live on a fairly tight budget, I don't want to waste litres of fresh water by making a lot of washing up and I'm aware that things like canned, fire-roasted tomatoes don't even exist in many countries (including, as far as I can tell, New Zealand) and that jarred red peppers aren't a very good choice for someone who doesn't have a fridge.  Lots of voyagers don't have ovens and ovens are often expensive to run, so the blog isn't groaning under the load of yet more recipes for roasted vegetables. 

Recipes rarely call for more than two pans and I try and suggest alternative ingredients, knowing that often you might be anchored somewhere that simply doesn't sell broccoli or green beans.  I am a slow cook - one of the slowest I know - so I don't give suggestions as to how long the food will take to prepare.  Generally, the list of ingredients isn't that long.  However, I love making curries with lots of different spices, so I will be including these along the way for other people who might also enjoy them!

All comments about how effective this method is are welcome and I shall try to make improvements when people suggest them.  All comments are moderated, ie they aren't published until I have read them.  This means that it's quite safe to leave your email address, should you want to.

 


27 August 2022

Basic White Sauce - and Variations

 

Basic white sauce is needed for Welsh rarebit, custard or lasagne. Proper Sauce Béchamel is made by lovingly stirring 2 tablespoons of white flour into 2 tablespoons of butter over a low heat for three or four minutes. It’s then cooled and a cup of scalded milk is added. Into the pan goes a small onion studded with 2 or 3 cloves and half a bay leaf. This is then cooked until thick and smooth, after which it’s put in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, before straining and seasoning. If you’re in a hurry, you can simply stand and stir it until the sauce has thickened and all the floury flavour has gone. I believe sailors usually have other things to do and go for a lowbrow, non-gastronomic alternative, using cornflour. It’s incredibly easy to make well in one pan and yet cookery writers insist on making a big issue of it, with suggestions for double boilers, pre-heating the milk, etc, etc, which is a lot of trouble and results in extra washing up.

The simplest of white sauces consists of milk, cornflour and either salt and pepper or sweetening. After that, all sorts of goodies can be added, but let’s start from zero. The following recipe makes enough sauce to coat a lasagne, provide four servings of custard, and make a generous amount of Welsh rarebit for two.

2 tbsp cornflour

1 cup milk

salt and pepper

  • Put the cornflour into a small saucepan and add about a quarter of the milk.

  • Blend until all the flour is mixed and a smooth thin paste results.

  • Add the seasoning and then the rest of the milk. Mix again.

  • Put the pan over a medium-high flame and stir the sauce constantly and fairly briskly until it starts to thicken. (You can tell that this is going to happen when it starts coating the side of the pan and the back of the spoon.)

  • Still stirring, lower the heat and let the sauce boil.

  • Once it’s boiling, continue cooking and stirring for one full minute and then remove the pan from the heat. This ensures that the starch is properly cooked. If it isn’t, it spoils the flavour of the sauce.

Notes

This method guarantees you a smooth, cooked, white sauce. Proper cooks use white flour instead of cornflour, in many instances, saying that it gives a better appearance – a sauce made with cornflour has a sheen on it that you may not want. Food reformists object to using cornflour, because it’s super refined and has no nutrition apart from carbohydrate. If either of these are your view, you can use wheat flour instead, but it will need about ten minutes cooking and really should be blended with a knob of butter, over a low heat before you start, to reduce the floury taste. You do not need to stir continually, once it’s brought to the boil, but keep an eye on it in case it catches and burns. You need 2 tbsp plain flour for 1 tbsp of cornflour. And you might want to have white flour for this purpose, so that you don’t have brown bits in your white sauce. But white flour is not as nutritious as whole wheat. Sigh. Nothing’s ever easy.

Another alternative, which is delicious and has an unusual taste, is to replace the flour with gram flour, (which is made from finely ground chickpeas). This gives the sauce a delicate hint of yellow, which looks very attractive, but the slight taste of peas may make it unsuited to a sweet sauce. Use 2 tbsp of gram flour for each 1 of cornflour. Add about 1/4 cup of water/milk and blend carefully, ensuring that there are no lumps. A mini whisk might be useful here, or you could push the flour through a sieve to eradicate lumps. Gram flour needs cooking longer than cornflour, but 5 minutes would be plenty.

For best results, you need a first-rate saucepan. Too many stainless steel ones cook unevenly with the result that the sauce goes into lumps. If you have any doubts about your pan, use a flame-tamer and as low a heat as your patience will permit. Even with a whisk, once lumps have formed they’re almost impossible to remove. If using dried milk, add it as you mix in the cornflour, so that it dissolves when you heat the water.

The above recipe will give you an exceedingly boring and bland white sauce. Personally, I think white sauce is pretty boring at the best of times and have never been able to see the logic of dumping a cup of it on an innocent cauliflower. The following suggestions and variations will help turn it into something that complements the rest of the food.

Variations:

  • The first thing you can do to improve it is to add a large knob of butter at stage 4. Once you have your confidence, you can actually melt this first and then stir the cornflour into it. A dollop of olive oil also enriches it.

  • If you have the patience, it’s well worth infusing the milk with flavourings. A tea infuser is useful for this: put a broken bay leaf, and a pinch of whatever herbs you fancy into the infuser and leave it for ten minutes or so in very hot milk. If you want something even better, a piece of onion, a garlic clove, a chunk of carrot, a couple of pieces of parsley, some mushroom stems, some broken cinnamon, a blade of mace – any or all of these can add a bit of character to a basic sauce. Put them in the cold milk and bring gradually to simmering point. Don’t boil or you’ll end up with a skin to deal with. Cover the milk while the flavours infuse, so that it stays warm longer. Be careful with mushrooms if you want a white white sauce, because they can colour it. Strain through a sieve before using. If you have any light-coloured vegetable stock, this is a good addition: mix it with dried milk.

  • Cheese. Oh, lovely, wonderful cheese! A generous addition will turn this boring gloop into a delightful adjunct to your vegetables and make an instant meal with pasta. Choose a cheese with a pretty strong flavour and grate away. A quarter of a cup will add interest; half a cup is about the minimum to give it a definite flavour.

  • Vegan cheese sauce can be made by substituting a couple of tbsp of nutritional yeast: I’ll be honest, it won’t be as good, but it will still be a vast improvement on white sauce. However, if you go to the trouble of infusing the milk and then add 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, it will be much improved.

  • Lemon juice. A tablespoon of this will add savour to your very basic sauce and complement carrots, for example. If you’re using a fresh lemon, add some of the rind, grated. This has much more oomph than the juice and adds a little colour. With the addition of honey, you will end up with a sweet sauce to go with puddings.

  • Dried or mixed mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chilli: all these can be added to a standard white sauce to enhance the flavour, without substantially altering the texture. They will alter the colour, however.

  • Green peppercorns, celery salt, dried minced garlic, and fresh or dried herbs will introduce a lot more character into the sauce, but will spoil the pure, unsullied whiteness, if this matters.

  • If you add two, chopped, hard-boiled eggs, some chopped parsley and the rind and juice of half a lemon, pour it over cauliflower and sprinkle with a cup of breadcrumbs, fried in olive oil or butter, you end up with Cauliflower à la Polonaise. This turns the cauliflower into a main course and is great with deep-fried chunks of potato or Oven chips. Broccoli, courgettes, etc can be given the same treatment.

  • A tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard makes for a very pleasant sauce with burgers.

  • Fresh mushrooms fried in butter or olive oil, can be added to make a quick pasta sauce. Season with 1 tsp crushed green peppercorns, ½ tsp tarragon and/or dill (weed) and a clove of garlic. You could add a chopped onion and fry it with the mushroom, if you like. If you feel confident about making white sauce, the mushrooms can be fried in the saucepan and the cornflour added to that, to ensure that none of the delicious flavour is wasted. Use cream and you have a meal fit for a king!

  • For a sweet sauce, omit salt and pepper and after the sauce is thickened, stir in a tbsp of honey and return to the heat. It can be further flavoured with vanilla essence, lemon juice or rind, orange juice or rind, rum, whisky, cocoa, coffee, etc. Brown sugar or treacle can be used instead of honey, for a different flavour – and colour.

  • For extra richness, incorporate some cream. After the sauce has boiled, allow it to cool a little and then gently stir in the cream. If you need to reheat it, do so very gently so that it doesn’t boil, otherwise the cream may curdle.

  • For custard, or lasagne, an egg, beaten in, adds extra richness. The easiest way to ensure that this doesn’t curdle, is to do the same as with cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk and heat it very carefully.

Cheese and Yoghurt Sauce

 This is a very lazy, and very effective way of making a thick sauce to go over pancakes, lasagne and so on. In my opinion it tastes much better than white sauce, however carefully made.  I would be a little bit careful using it in the pressure cooker, however, because it might separate. If you make your own yoghurt (see recipe), you will usually have some on board. This recipe assumes that you have thick, Greek-style yoghurt, but if yours is on the thin side, use all yoghurt or add another egg.

1/2 cup Greek-style yoghurt

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 cup grated cheese

  • Beat the yoghurt, milk and egg together. Add the grated cheese and mix well.

  • Pour over the dish and heat through, either on a low heat with a flame tamer on the top of the cooker, or in a moderate oven.

Variation:

I haven’t tried making a vegan version of this. Of course it’s easy to buy or make plant milk and you can buy or make plant milk yoghurt, too. The usual egg substitute is 1 tbsp ground flax seed to 3 tbsp water. Whisk in the water and then let it stand until it becomes gelatinous, about 5 minutes. This works well in baking, but I’m not sure if it would work in this recipe.


Tomato Sauce (Marinara Sauce)

For some reason, North Americans invariably refer to this as marinara sauce, which always sounds a bit pretentious to me!   Whatever you choose to call it, the easiest way to make it is with a can of chopped tomatoes.   However, if fresh tomatoes are cheap and full-flavoured, they are also very good, so long as you don’t mind little bits of skin in it. 

If you want to skin the tomatoes first, immerse the tomato in boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately plunge it into cold water to stop it cooking.  A bowl of seawater is fine for this. If you pierce the skin first, it is easier to start the peeling process.

1 onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

400 g/14 oz can tomatoes OR 4 or 5 fresh ones

salt and pepper

  • Dice the onion and cook it in the olive oil for 5 minutes or so. Dice the garlic and add it to the pan.

  • When the garlic is softened, add the can of tomatoes, or the fresh ones, diced.

  • Cook for 10 to 15 minutes over a moderate heat until the sauce has thickened to the texture you want. Season with salt and pepper.

Variations:

This is a very basic, but surprisingly good sauce. It can be seasoned with basil, thyme or any other herb that takes your fancy: fresh basil, of course is particularly good as is fresh Italian parsley. Cinnamon or chilli can also be used, and a dollop of red wine raises it to gourmet standards. If you are feeling especially elegant, put it through a wire sieve to make a smooth purée.

Pastry

Before proceeding any further, let me say that I do not claim to be anything of a pastry cook. This is partly because on a boat, it’s usually difficult to have everything cool. It’s also due to my reluctance to use expensive butter or unpleasant-tasting margarine and the fact that I dislike ‘rubbing in’ pastry. I suspect that I simply don’t have the touch to produce good pastry. However, whenever I serve it, people always seem to enjoy it, so I can at least assert that if you use this recipe, the results are edible!

The following recipe is easy and foolproof. It’s cheap, because there’s no butter in it and it’s made with wholemeal flour. While it doesn’t produce light and flaky results, it rolls out easily. It makes sufficient to make two decent-sized pasties, a 230 mm (9 in) frying-pan quiche, a 200 mm (8 in) flan tin quiche or to cover a pie.

To be honest, if I make anything with ‛pastry’ these days, I nearly always use Calzone dough instead.

If you have your own favoured recipe, this is the equivalent of what in the UK would be referred to as ‘half a pound’ of pastry, or 250 g, or the equivalent of making North American pastry with a cup of flour.

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

salt and pepper

1 cup wholewheat flour

  • Put the oil, water, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together with a mini whisk or broad-bladed knife.

  • Mix in the flour, finishing off by kneading gently with your hand.

  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured board or counter.

There! It really couldn’t be easier, could it?

 

Quick Curry Sauce

I’m sure no Indian cook would own this one; however it is useful for extending some leftovers or mixing in with a can of beans. If you cook some rice in the pressure cooker while you’re making this, you get an almost instant meal.

2 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 onion

1 garlic clove or 1/2 tsp garlic paste

fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp gram flour

1½ cups water

1 tbsp curry paste OR 1 tbsp curry powder and 1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan. Chop the onion, dice the garlic and ginger and fry in the oil until softened. If you’re using curry powder, add this now and cook for another minute or two.

  • Add the gram flour and a little of the water. Stir until any lumps of flour have disappeared and then add the rest of the water. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

  • When the sauce has boiled, lower the heat (and add the curry paste). If you’re using curry powder, add the tomato purée. Stir and add the lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

  • Leave on a low heat to simmer for 5 minutes so that the gram flour is completely cooked. If it’s too thick, add a little more water, or liquid from the can of beans, if you’re using them.


Variations:
  • For Baked Bean Curry, which tastes surprisingly good, add a tin of baked beans to the above sauce.

  • Add cooked vegetables for an instant meal.

  • Try frying plantain with the onions.


 

Hollandaise Sauce

Perhaps this isn’t exactly a basic recipe, but it’s a lovely one to have in your repertoire. Typically, it’s served with fresh fish such as salmon, but it also goes superbly with fresh asparagus, which is anyway such a luxury, that it deserves the best of treatment. It’s also very popular poured over poached eggs on toast.

If you’re unacquainted with this sauce, the best way to describe it’s like hot mayonnaise, but somehow, even richer. I haven’t tried making a vegan version of this.

1½ tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp water

1 egg

50 g (2 oz)/4 tbsp butter

  • Boil water in a small saucepan and then take it off the stove.

  • Find a bowl that will sit comfortably over the pan, but not so deeply as to displace the hot water.

  • Put the lemon juice, water salt and pepper in the bowl.

  • Beat in the egg, with a wire whisk and then add a quarter of the butter. Continue whisking until the butter has melted. By now the sauce should be starting to thicken.

  • Add the rest of the butter a quarter at a time, whisking all the time.

  • Taste. Add a little more lemon juice if you like.

  • The sauce should be served immediately, but it will keep warm if you leave the bowl over the hot water.

If you find that the water has cooled down too quickly, you can put it back over a very low flame on a flame tamer. The water must not boil because it will then effectively scramble the egg, which will ruin the sauce.

 

24 July 2022

Vegan "Parmesan"

For many years, I lived with a man who detested cheese and because money was in short supply, I hardly ever bought this treat for myself.  I missed it, but its lack was tolerable, although I really enjoyed eating it when I had a chance.  Then I lived with someone who loved cheese and, moreover, we had a little more money, so we generally had it on board.

When I decided to live on my own in New Zealand, I could finally eat exactly how I wanted to.  However, my budget was again pretty limited and I found that New Zealand, in spite of being awash in dairy cows, has no tradition of its own cheese.  Most of the affordable cheese made here, is a pastiche of Camembert or Brie, of Gouda and Edam and of course, the ubiquitous so-called Cheddar.  I had hoped for so much more, remembering the open markets of my English youth, where I could buy several different versions of my local cheese.  While there is some superb artisan cheese in this country, not only is most of it beyond my financial means, but most of it is beyond my physical means, only being sold in the major cities.  Over recent years, the plight of dairy cattle (particularly calves) and of the planet overall, has inexorably inched me towards veganism.  However, I still succumbed to the lure of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.  It was a very happy day, therefore, that I stumbled across a vegan alternative on the Internet.

Not only is vegan "Parmesan" a genuinely acceptable alternative to the real thing, it even emulates it sufficiently accurately, that friends have tipped generous amounts of the food I've served them, without even noticing that it's not the 'real thing'.  Often what you taste is what you expect!

Many people use cashew nuts: I prefer Brazil nuts.  (In this blog I am not generally going to discuss the various ethical pros and cons of one nut/grain/legume over another.  Suffice it to say that the worst of them is probably less unethical than most animal products.)  You will need a blender or good mouli-grinder to make this.

Brazil nuts are one of those that tend to go stale quite quickly - like walnuts - so I have assumed that the 'cheese' would also lose its flavour and freshness quickly.  I therefore limit its production to 1/4 cup at a time.  The recipe is so simple that it's extremely easy to make larger quantities.  However, I do find that a small jar will keep happily for at least two or three weeks without refrigeration, which is another of its great virtues.


VEGAN "PARMESAN" CHEESE

1/4 cup Brazil nuts

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Roughly chop the Brazil nuts into about 1cm pieces
  2. Put the chopped nuts and the rest of the ingredients into your blender or mouli and process until you get the consistency of finely grated cheese.
  3. Serve over pasta, etc, as you would Parmesan cheese.

Adjust the salt according to your personal taste.