Now, me hearties, I hope you’ve got the idea that cooking on board means planning ashore.
First, find out if there are any special diets needed beforehand: any diabetics, vegetarians or religious restrictions and so on. If the requirements are strict, you’ll need to tactfully explain that the extraordinary will have to be under the heading of ‘self catering’ due to storage and equipment limitations on board.
So long as people are warned and have time to prepare themselves, they generally are just happy to have received consideration. It means that they can weigh the facts up when they decide to join the crew and commit to the trip.
Next, try to imagine each dish on the plate: there should be a variety. The variety should include diet-balance, texture contrast, colour variance and flavour blend.
Then try to write down the meals, as if on the plate, for lunch and dinner for consecutive days. Try to avoid repetition except for breakfast. People generally like the same sort of breakfast each day, so they can choose from the same array.
In your spare time, try out some recipes or stick to family favourites. The rule must always be: keep it simple.
Here is a recipe I’m making today for stewed fruit, for example. Most people actually ‘stew’ it in a container on top of the stove, so the heat comes from below. This makes the result a bit sloppy. It looks pre-digested. The fruit loses its structure.
My recipe is ‘in the oven’. I learnt this a long time ago from an old shearer’s cook. Here ’tis:
Start with SEASONAL fruits. For example…in Autumn try
EQUIPMENT: 1x Oven-proof dish (mine’s oval) approx. 27x20x5cm deep.
1. Pre-heat oven to 175-200C
2. Cut plums in half, remove stones
3. Core and slice the apples, roughly mix the two fruit types together
4. Place fruit in oven-proof dish, pour in water, sprinkle sugar on top, heat on stove top till water boils, place in oven.
5. Allow to cook for 30 minutes.
Test fruit with the point of a knife to see if it’s tender whilst still holding shape. Timing will depend on type of fruit and degree of ripeness. Rhubarb, for example, can be checked after 15-20 minutes.
Serve the stewed fruit for breakfast with muesli or breakfast cereal.
The real secret of cooking is: don’t mess about, let the ingredients do the talking.