An organised home……

I read somewhere a couple of years ago, that on average, only two recipes out of any cookbook purchased are ever used. I glanced across at our bulging bookshelf kept exclusively for cookbooks and thought, “Guilty.”

What a waste! Then my father had to go into a nursing home (he was living with us) and like parents who have kids that go to kinder, I started getting sick from the daily visits. I wasn’t bad but I didn’t move far from the couch for a month. And I employed my favourite tool, MS Excel, to solve the problem.

I started buying flags and tagging the books, with a flag placed in the top right hand corner signifying a mid week meal (after work). The flag position became more sophisticated over time.

Then I created a simple excel spreadsheet, with categories across the top, and drop down lists for the categories.

Across the top my categories are:

Meal NameName of meal from cookbook
Key ingredientsThis is the hardest thing to get, say a seasonal item
CourseProbable first course that you would use it for
Secondary CourseAnother option for the recipe
PurposeHome, entertaining or BBQ – this alludes to the complexity of the dish
VegetarianFor the veggie option!
Time RequiredWeekday or Weekend, whether you can do it after work or weekend
Marinate If you need to marinate it overnight – you need to be prepared
Cook bookName of Cookbook
AuthorAuthor of the Cookbook
PagePage of the Cookbook
CommentsFor once it’s cooked and you’ve formed an opinion

So once I flagged my books, I would just input one book a night into the spreadsheet. I now have about 800 recipes (and a few more books to go) in my database. And the benefit is……

I’m looking for an entree on the weekend for entertaining friends, and I have figs in the fridge. You just filter the spreadsheet by the Key Ingredient column, with figs as the filter, and the available recipes come up! Have a quick look through and off you go!

If you haven’t used filter function in excel before, just google it – it’s really straight forward.

I also use data validation/lists for some of the columns. My list for each column is below…..

Then came stage two, which came about from a number of things……

  • Both Lucas and I have cancer in our families and we decided we needed to eat less red meat and more vegetarian.
  • I hate grocery shopping mid week – I’d prefer to be at the gym – it’s a waste of time and wasteful and leftover food.
  • I wanted to use more of our cookbooks.

So I photocopied a stack of the recipes that had a tag on the corner and laid them out on the bench like this……

I then collected two veggie, one or two seafood, a chicken and maybe a red meat. Monday and Tuesday are veggie, and I try to pick something nice for Friday night. They all go into a folder with ten dividers. Each folder has ten weeks of recipes.

But you don’t need to do it all at once. I did one volume, then a second then a third. I am half way through a fifth. But the trick is this…. When you have photocopied a whole lot of recipes from one book (especially if it is a specialist book, such as Indonesian), then they will come through heavily in each volume. So when I did volume four, I also pulled out volume 1 and mixed them all up. And now we have great variety. I also try to plan for meals that might have an expensive item like creme creche. I used to buy it and use half and waste it. Now I make sure I have two recipes in the same week then I don’t have any waste!

I got this from Kikki K – It peels off like a post it note – I added some magnetic tape and it lives on the fridge.

I’ve got another folder full of recipes for work lunches (I like to bake something on Sunday night for the week) and all of a sudden, we are spending less, eating with more variety than ever, and saving time.

The WIP (Work in Progress) file has all of the recipes yet to be placed. The best thing is if you have had a dud meal (We are up to Volume 3 and only have one) then you just pull it out of the sleeve, throw it, and put in something from you WIP file!

We have never eaten better. The time investment is completely worth it. And we are getting value out of our cookbooks! This makes catering on the boat so much easier.

Bun in tin on paper

Low fat banana and raspberry loaf

I’m not sure where I originally sourced this recipe (but I remember it said low fat!), but it is perfect regatta food, breakfast (toasted in a frypan with butter), work snack, stick it in the freezer; just generally useful! I made this recently the night before Sail Paradise Regatta; we had some all the way through, either in our lunch box or for breakfast on the way out after briefing…. It lasted about a week in the fridge on the boat. And it is really moist and tasty.

I generally pack a banana every day in my work lunch kit, but there is inevitably a couple that go black. I throw them in the freezer and recycle them into this banana bread. At work I put it in the sandwich press and heat it up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fat free greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal SR flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1.5 cups mashed banana (can be overripe – this is better!)
  • 1 punnet of fresh raspberries (or blueberries) or they can be frozen

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees fan and line a loaf tin with baking paper
  • Whisk yoghurt, honey and eggs in a bowl
  • In a seperate bowl, add flours, sugar and bicarb of soda. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yoghurt mixture, then fold through the banana. Then at the last, fold through the raspberries or blueberries.
  • Pour into the tin, and bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Energy Loaf

We both get seasick from time to time. Often for me (Lucas) it’s at the start of a race after we’ve been exerting a lot of energy running around keeping up with the fully crewed boats. This loaf is a life-saver. Loads of energy in it, and also caffeine.

A friend gave us a container of this for the first Brisbane to Gladstone that we did, and it has become a race staple. Ginger, dates, nuts, chia, coffee. What more could you want? Keep a container in the cockpit or the pantry during the race and you’ll always have something to snack on. Just remember to keep liquids up as well with seasickness.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted dates, chopped and tightly packed
  • 1 cup strong coffee (sweetened if desired)
  • 84g salted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 160ml water
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • baking powder
  • 1-2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts (pecan/macadamia/pecan/walnut – whatever you have)
  • 1 cup naked ginger

Method

Place dates in a saucepan with coffee and butter and bring gently
to boil and simmer for about 8 minutes until dates soften and mixture thickens – set aside to cool.

Add the chia seeds to the water. This should become like jelly when it sits for a while. While sitting and setting, beat the eggs and then combine the jelly-like chia seeds with them.

Add the cooled date mixture to the egg and chia mix – combine well.

Combine the flour with the spices. Sift if you want, but I don’t bother.

Sift the dry flour mixture into the egg, chia and date mix and combine well.

Add the almond meal and mix well and then add the nuts and ginger. I keep the ginger really chunky.

Grease and line a cake tin or loaf tin and bake in a fan forced oven at 150 degrees for around 50 minutes to an hour. The cake is cooked when the middle of it feels firm to touch.

An Arabic Feast – Part 3: Main Players

Part 3 from our metho correspondent, Stephen.

So now I needed a couple of heroes. In keeping with the Arabic theme I went for falafels, a good vegetarian option, though with a difference. Let’s make them more like chick pea patties than anything resembling what you could identify as falafel.

I also wanted to do some poaching and thought about meatballs, but finally went with lemon chicken, but with a twist. I decided on a kind of cevap style sausage. Continue reading “An Arabic Feast – Part 3: Main Players”

Lamb Shoulder with Fennel and Anchovy

I love lamb, I love slow cooking, I love leftovers, and I love reheated lamb at sea. This one is easy, essentially foolproof, and delicious. On this occasion I served it with Yotem Ottolenghi’s sweet potato chips and steamed greens.

I’ve done this in the yacht on a Saturday delivery for a Sunday race, and it is a winter favourite on a Sunday afternoon at home. The leftovers for lunch or reheated in foil containers are better than the first time around!

INGREDIENTS:

  • lamb shoulder – about 1.2kg
  • 5 tablespoons of fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 12 anchovies (or more/less to taste)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • peel from two lemons
  • a glug of olive oil

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 90 degrees.

Crush the fennel seeds roughly with a mortar and pestle, then add the garlic, anchovy, rosemary and peel. Mash to a course paste. Press it into the lamb, all over. Put the shoulder in a heavy roasting tin with a lid or casserole dish, skin side up. Pour over a glug of olive oil and pour a cup of water down the side, so it doesn’t wash off the marinade.

With the lid on, roast for three hours. Usually the meat gives up liquid, but if it dries out, add some more water. Once the meat is beautifully tender (but still holding its shape), take the lid off and crank the heat to 200 degrees, for a further 30 minutes. This will dry out the fat and give it a lovely crispness.

It was at this stage I put in the chips. After 30 minutes I took the lamb out of the oven, put the lid back on, and let if rest for another half an hour while the chips finished cooking.

The photos below show it on the dinner table, and then in my biome lunch box for tomorrow’s lunch.

An Arabic Feast – Part 2: Salads

Another post from our metho-correspondent, Stephen.

It’s best not to have too much heat in a small galley on hot humid days so I thought I’d go for a few salads. I imagined vegetarians would be ok with that sort of thing. One thing I like to do with salads is add fruit, and I love peaches at when they’re in season.  Peach salad goes particularly well with seafood, I think, especially the prawns which come off the boats a few fingers along, though I’m not doing seafood today.

Continue reading “An Arabic Feast – Part 2: Salads”

Lamb shank risotto. Not really.

We had a couple of lamb shanks that needed cooking, and the intention was to make a lamb ragout to have with parpadelle. But had to alter that plan on the fly…

This works just as well for any more robust/tougher cut of meat, like beef shin, or chuck steak. My plan was to have it with pasta, but we ended up planning to head out to sea sooner than anticipated, and so we didn’t want to be boiling water in rolly seas, and needed this to be edible cold or hot. It certainly is NOT a real risotto, but it is reminiscent of one. Just not creamy – it’s more like a stew mixed in with rice so that there wasn’t too much liquid.

Ingredients

  • 2 Lamb shanks
  • oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • Oregano, thyme or any other flavourful herb
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml stock – chicken or vege
  • 1 cup brown rice

Method

This was kind of made up on the fly, and I don’t have exact details, but the principles are here.

Cook shanks in a little oil until they’re well browned.

Set aside, reduce heat and then saute the carrots, onion and celery until softened. Add garlic too if you want. Looking at these photos, that’s what I did too!

Once softened, mix in the tomato paste, white wine and herbs. Cook the wine off. I don’t bother salting this dish as instant stock is pretty salty already, but do add some pepper at this time.

If you are using an ovenproof dish, return the shanks and add the stock and some additional water if needed to cover the meat. If you need to, transfer everything to an ovenproof dish and then put in the oven at 150 degrees for about 3 hours. This works well on the boat, as our oven is not really that hot to start with!

When the meat is falling off the shanks, remove the bones, and cut the meat roughly. Add it back to the pan with the rice. Add more stock or water if needed to have enough for the rice to soak up/cook in. about two cups of liquid to a cup of brown rice. This is what I think I would do normally, but since it has been some time since I took the photos, I’m a little confused. It looks like I must have strained the veggies and meat, and cooked the rice in the remaining liquid on the stove. Either way it should still work!

Once cooked, this dish is pretty good in the fridge until ready to eat.

An Arabic Feast – Part 1: Dips

The first part of this mini-series by our metho-correspondent, Stephen.

Sitting in the marina at Mooloolaba on a 27 foot Spacesailer in summer wondering what to do for a family of four coming for dinner – two adults, two teenagers (one a vegetarian) – and thinking about  the challenge of how to satisfy all tastes without resorting to the good ol’ barbecue. Just me and Maxie, a two burner kero stove, and Oskar, the food processor. Continue reading “An Arabic Feast – Part 1: Dips”

Chijimi, or Buchimgae

When I lived in Japan I loved this dish on the few times I went to Korea Town in Tsuruhashi, Osaka. And when I saw garlic chives at the market, I thought immediately that this would be great on the boat.

I know that in Japan they were called Chijimi, which translates into Korean as buchimgae, known in the western world as Korean Pancakes. Jeon is a type of buchimgae, and buchu means garlic chives; so buchujeon is a garlic chive Korean pancake.

They are so simple to make and you can enjoy these pancakes at happy hour with a really cold beer, or serve them up for a breakfast after a big night with friends. . And you can use up whatever left overs are around. Seafood, meat and veges all work in this dish, but plain is still delicious.

I did search through a few korean pancake recipes on various blogs and websites, and decided that the one on JinJoo’s site looked like it would reproduce the pancake I remember in Japan. Check out her blog for some great Korean recipes.

Ingredients

  • 200g Garlic chives, chopped into inch-long pieces
  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Vegetable oil

Method

Simple. Just whisk together the egg, flour, salt and water until smooth. The batter should be slightly thinner than pouring cream consistency. You might need to add more water to get there. Jinjoo also adds a little sugar as well, but I don’t think it needs it.

Add the batter to the chives. The mix should be really heavy with chives – about twice as many chives to the amount of batter. If you have batter left over, chop up more chives – no matter how many pancakes you make, they will be eaten! This is your chance to add more ingredients. Shredded carrot, zucchini, squid, thinly sliced beef, etc.

Heat up the oil in the fying pan and ladle in a scoop of the mix. Spread it thinly, and cook until it is a little crispy. Flip it and do the same. The second side won’t take as long.

Serve it up while hot, with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce. Jinjoo has one on her site, but there are plenty of others around. A starting point is soy sauce and vinegar at 2:1 ratio. Then add to your hearts delight. ground sesame, fresh chilli, spring onion, chilli oil, ginger, etc. Rice wine vinegar works best in my opinion.

We have some plans to tart this up and make it more of a meal, so stay tuned for that in the future.

Gadgets for the galley, or a very small kitchen!

I have put a lot of effort in keeping junk (and weight) out of our yacht, and so we have spent a lot of time making sure that all of our galley gear is highly functional, and preferably multi-purpose, as well as space saving. Like most things we write about, there isn’t a lot of difference between efficiency on board, or efficiency in the small kitchen in the city unit we have recently moved into, after letting out our large waterfront home! Here are a few things I cannot live without……

Biome Lunch Box

These lunchboxes change the way I eat at work, and are perfect for inshore racing lunches, or semi-prepared Friday night meals on the yacht after a busy commute to get to the marina.

Consisting of three sections, one large enough for two sandwiches, they also come with a small and medium size container. They are so flexible. In the simplest form, you can put a sandwich in one side, and leave the items that make them soggy (such as tomatoes) in the smaller section, for adding at the last minute. But I usually use this section for a salad, and put the dressing into one of the smaller containers for the last minute add. Then in the smaller sections, add some olives or strawberries as a snack.

On a Thursday night, I can pre-marinate some meat, and put the dressing or marinade in the smaller containers, or herbs in the smaller section.

The greatest change that it has made for us, is that I am always prepared the night before. I spend a lot of my work time in the car, and Lucas is in concerts or on-air. But when our workday begins, it is just a matter of taking our meals out of the fridge and into a bag, and off we go. Mine is red (Apriori) and Lucas is green (Toccata)!

Stacking bowls, colander and measuring cups

Joseph Joseph has this off the shelf solution which gives you everything you need, but it all stacks in one place. The purple and orange spoons start from a teaspoon and go up to a cup, then you have a small bowl, a stainless steel mesh sieve, a colander, and a large mixing bowl. And it all stacks into one space. We have had it a year, and it appears to be extremely good quality. The sieve hasn’t rusted, even though it has lived on the yacht for a year!

Aldi collapsible containers

Some of the items that I have outlined are rather expensive, but I consider that all represent value for money. These fabulous containers, sourced from Aldi, represent incredible value, and we use them all the time. They win out as when they are empty, the can be collapsed down and take up little room.

Tupperware bakeware

This is a winner on the yacht with no rusting and light weight; if it slips off the stove and is dropped it will not shatter. It comes in two sizes, and the lid can be used as a shallow baking dish as well. For storing, the lid slots upside down into the base, taking up minimal room.

Joseph Joseph Chopping board

This is one of my favourites. The board itself is on a slight angle, with a ridge around the side. My pet hate when cutting up food with a lot of liquid, such as tomatoes or roast meat (at home, but especially on the yacht) is that the liquid runs everywhere. This neatly contains it so it can be poured down the sink. Turn it over, and it also has a meat grate.

Compact food processor

We have experimented with hand drawn food processors, but have found them difficult to clean and unreliable. We have a small multifunction food processor that fits into a plastic container, which we run off the inverter and swap from apartment to yacht. It gives us a lot more scope for our cooking, and I couldn’t live without it.

Joseph Joseph washing up caddy

These keep everything nice and clean. We have a washing up brush with liquid in attached to the bulkhead, with another caddy with the scourer and hand wash. I have some “Thank you” sanitiser restrained by saddles and shockcord if you are on the run and don’t want to use the galley water.

Sink Colander – again, Joseph Joseph

This flat colander fits directly into the sink, and it is really handy to put in if you are washing up, as it collects all of the food scraps and stops them clogging up your drains!

Soda Stream

I love water, and the Soda Stream has a number of benefits. Besides being cheaper than buying soda water, it means we eliminate single use water bottles. The added benefit on the yacht is that it seems to take away the “Tank water” taste. Don’t understand why. We have one at the house and one in the yacht; unlike many of the fairly extravagant purchases on this post, we bought both of ours second hand for about $30 combined. Jump on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree or equivalent wherever you might live.

Sheathed knives

Knives on boats are really dangerous; I don’t like them to be unsheathed if we are anywhere except the marina. And as you plunge your hand into the drawer and the boat lunges, you don’t want to be cut by a sharp knife! These were purchased very inexpensively via Peters of Kensington.

Paper towel dispenser

We are always looking for ways to use “wasted space” in the yacht. With two saddles, a little bit of shock cord and a shackle we lost the pin for, we now have a use for this wasted bit of space.

And a bit of fun…..

If I can’t drink out of crystal, then these fine, stemless champagne flutes are the next best thing. And they fit into a winch handle pocket – so you are sure not to spill a drop! We don’t allow glass on the yacht in case of breakages, so these are made of a hard plastic, making them very durable.