Andy's news: haute cuisine on the water
Can it be September already? I've been promising John a new screed for the newsletter since the Fourth of July, but what with one thing and another I kept putting it off. It seems to me I said everything of interest back in 2013, not that that usually slows me down. Angela and I have been running switchel, the honey-vinegar drink as promised, which is a big hit, especially with some raspberries in it to add color. I haven't had the nerve to serve it with oatmeal, as suggested in certain moldy volumes of farm cuisine. Maybe writing about it will encourage me.
Angela is doing more and more cool stuff with the ice cream. She simmered a vanilla custard yesterday and today she'll put in peanut butter and chocolate chips, and maybe something else. My suggestion of Old Bay Seasoning was met with stony silence. Maybe I'll sneak some in when she isn't looking. She's usually a big fan of Old Bay, being from southern Maryland and all.
We had a lot of trouble with the water heater this season, but John's finally gotten it all squared away. It got me thinking how my galley implements are based on an active process, as opposed to the homeostasis that typifies landward appliances.
I start a fire in the morning that burns all day. I usually burn a couple of cookies before the iron conducts the heat away from the firebox and warms the whole oven. As the day goes on I put in logs according to what I'll be cooking and when, whether to get the range hot enough to boil water, or keep a gentler heat to proof my bread or cook whatever's in the oven. But we keep this fire going till Angela has dried dinner's last pots and pans on top, then let it gently expire. And the next morning I shovel out the ashes and light another fire.
The ice box is the same way, albeit to a slower rhythm. We load it with blocks of ice in the top and bottom on Sunday and I put in as much frozen meat as I can fit in with the ice. And the ice melts slowly over the week and it is the melting of the ice that chills the food in the box. When all the ice on top is gone, melted and sluiced down to the bilge, I take the remaining ice from the bottom and move it on top. By Saturday almost all the ice is gone. Over a six-day trip there is once block of ice which cools the food by melting.
It's not like your freezer that chugs to life when you put something warm in it. If you put in something warm in the ice box, it melts the ice. It's hard to save leftovers, for instance, as everything we put in makes the whole ice box a little warmer. Of course we lay the fish right on the ice, and we put the ham and corned beef, which are cured to make them last longer, in the middle. I freeze butter, I put as much frozen stuff in there as I can, but things like milk and cheese don't take well to freezing.