Banana Bread, by request

blackberry_tart_01Just a quick note to post my banana bread recipe, in response to a discussion on the Women Who Sail (WWS) site.  Thanks for your request, Linda!

I haven’t posted much here recently because Chris and I have swallowed the anchor (for now) and are working on our new house.  Legacy is feeling a little neglected.

I don’t have a handy picture of banana bread, so rather than having a completely pictureless blog, I’ve included a picture of the yummy blackberry tart we made for dessert yesterday.  One of the benefits of our current land-based existence is being able to pick blackberries from our yard.  And, I do have to say that it’s pretty awesome to have a large kitchen, after 12 years of cruising!

OK, here’s the Banana Bread recipe from “A Cruising Cook’s Guide to Mexico”:

Banana Bread

Serves:  8

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.  Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2 to 3 minutes.  Beat in the flour mixture until blended.  Gradually beat in the eggs.  Fold in the banana and nuts until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!  I’ll start posting regularly again soon, probably with more of an emphasis on Northwest foods.

Fair winds and following seas,

Heather, the Cruising Cook

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Anything-in-the-Larder Roll-Ups

RollupsIt’s great to be back in Mexico! Now that we’re back in the swing of things at Tenacatita, our favorite Mexican anchorage, I’m reminded how frequently I need to produce finger foods for raft-ups, sundowners, or other social occasions.  Roll-Ups are my ace in the hole for last minute appetizers.  They are quick and easy, and can be concocted out of almost anything in your larder.

Here are the general rules:  First you need a base – usually a tortilla, wrap, or Lavash bread.  The pre-packaged store-bought tortillas work well for Roll-Ups because they don’t separate into flaky layers.  Next you need a sticky layer to help the Roll-Ups hold together.  Frequently this is cream cheese, but could also be peanut butter, Nutella, or a soft cheese spread.  Last is a contrasting layer – something to provide an interesting flavor or texture.Place your base on a cutting board and spread the sticky layer all the way to the edges of the tortilla or wrap.  Sprinkle on your contrasting layer, stopping about a ½ inch short of the edge and leaving uncovered spots of the sticky layer.  Starting at one edge, tightly roll up the base, pressing down to ensure it sticks together.  Cut off and discard (or eat!) the ends that aren’t fully filled, then slice the remaining roll into ¾ to 1 inch slices.  Arrange on a pretty plate or platter and serve.  If you make the rolls in advance, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Slice and plate just before serving.

Here are a few possible combinations:

  • Cream cheese, diced ham, diced green chiles, and minced cilantro
  • Cream cheese and pepper jelly
  • Smoked salmon spread and minced red onions
  • Cream cheese, flaked smoked fish, and minced capers
  • Herbed cheese spread and black olive slices
  • Guacamole, minced tomatoes, and crumbled cooked bacon
  • Bean spread (or seasoned refried beans) and salsa
  • Peanut butter and crumbled cooked bacon
  • Peanut butter and finely chopped bananas
  • Nutella and finely chopped hazelnuts

Your options are limited only by the ingredients aboard and your imagination!  Recently, we thawed a pork tenderloin that was bigger than we needed for dinner.  We cut off the skinny end of the tenderloin and saved it to make Roll-Ups for the Mayor’s Night Out dinghy raft-up.  We didn’t know what we were going to do with it; we just made it up on the fly.  Here’s what we came up with:

Pork Chutney Roll-ups

  • 6 oz. raw pork tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Curry powder and/or other Indian spices such as garam masala
  • Raisins, chopped
  • Slivered almonds
  • Vinegar
  • 4 tortillas
  • 4 oz. cream cheese

Finely chop the pork tenderloin and season with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and add pork.  Cook until the pork is browned.  Add the Indian spices, raisins, almonds, and some vinegar.  Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors and reduce the liquid.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.  Because the chutney filling will be paired with bland tortillas and cream cheese, it should be a little spicier and more acidic than if you were serving it alone.

Lay out your base layer and add a good glob of your sticky layer

Lay out your base layer and add a good glob of your sticky layer

Spread the sticky layer all the way to the edges of the base layer

Spread the sticky layer all the way to the edges of the base layer

Sprinkle your contrasting layer over the sticky layer, stopping a half inch from the edges

Sprinkle your contrasting layer over the sticky layer, stopping a half inch from the edges

Roll up the base tightly, pressing down to help it stick together

Roll up the base tightly, pressing down to help it stick together

After trimming off the edges, cut into 1 inch slices

After trimming off the edges, cut into 1 inch slices

Serve on a pretty plate.  These are cream cheese flavored with tomato paste and Italian seasoning, topped with sliced olives.

Serve on a pretty plate. These are cream cheese flavored with tomato paste and Italian seasoning, topped with sliced olives.

Let the chutney filling cool.  Spread each of the tortillas with cream cheese, all the way to the edge.  Sprinkle the chutney filling on the sticky layer, stopping about 1/2” from the edge. Roll up tightly, pressing down to ensure the roll sticks together.  Discard the roll ends that aren’t fully filled and slice the remainder of the roll in ¾ to 1 inch slices.  Serve on a pretty plate or platter.

I hope to see your variation on Roll-Ups at the next social gathering!

Fair winds and following seas,

Heather, The Cruising Cook

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Pre-Season Provisioning

provisioning_nuts_05 Sorry for the long absence; the beginning of this season was really busy for us!  As I look through my pantry, I realize that my priorities have changed over the years for what items I bring down to the boat from the United States (other than boat parts, of course!).  In our early years, we usually made a special provisioning trip up to Tucson once Legacy was re-launched and the refrigeration up and running.  Then we would bring down a car load of hard-to-find groceries, including frozen meats, cold cuts, and cheeses.

SodaStream flavors travel with us.

SodaStream flavors travel with us.

Now we’ve discovered wonderful places in Mexico such as Henderson Meat in Mazatlan and the “Canadian deli” in La Manzanilla.  We still make a provisioning stop in Tucson on our way back to the boat, but the items we bring are different.  Here’s what was on my list this year:

Chocolate and treats from Trader Joe's are a favorite.

Chocolate and treats from Trader Joe’s are a favorite.

Trader Joe’s:

  • Lots of Pound Plus bars of chocolate, both for eating and for baking
  • Sesame Sticks (a favorite snack item)
  • A couple of bottles of nice olive oil
  • Chicken broth concentrate (see note below)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Slivered almonds
  • Canned pumpkin
  • A few bottles of “Two Buck Chuck” wine

Note:  Trader Joe’s chicken broth concentrate has become a staple on Legacy.  Each box has about ten small packets that contain enough viscous liquid to make one cup of broth.  Even if a recipe doesn’t call for broth, we’ll frequently squeeze in a packet of concentrate to boost the flavor.  It’s also wonderful for making sauces, especially pan sauces.


  • Pistachios and Trail Mix for snacking
  • Walnuts for baking
  • Peanut butter
  • Batteries
  • Ibuprofen and other OTC medicines
  • Scotch-Brite sponges
  • Dawn dish soap
Common grocery items may be hard to find in Mexico.

Common grocery items may be hard to find in Mexico.

Grocery Store:

  • Sliced black olives
  • Diced green chiles
  • Coconut milk
  • Spices
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Shelf-stable pepperoni
  • Grape-Nuts and low-sugar granola (to mix with yogurt for breakfast)

In other words, I concentrate on items that are important to me, but expensive or hard to find in Mexico.  Here are a few things that I didn’t bring that will be on my list for next year:

  • Sriracha (available in Mexico, but good brands are very expensive)
  • Fish sauce
  • Pecorino Romano or other good grating cheese, if I have a way to keep it cool
  • Peppermint lifesavers (good to counter dry mouth from motion sickness remedies)

Remember that everyone’s list will be different.  You are the only person who can decide what is important to you.  Maybe it’s a hometown specialty, or a particular brand of snacks.  Or maybe you just can’t live without your (fill in the blank)…..  Bring what you don’t want to be without, but relax and find new favorites available in your cruising area!

Fair winds and following seas,

Heather, The Cruising Cook

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Eggplant — the Cruiser’s Friend

Eggplant and FriendsOne of the vegetables that you can find in some form in most parts of the world is eggplant.  I didn’t cook much with eggplant until we started cruising, but now it’s one of my “go to” veggies aboard because of its versatility.  Below are three of my favorite eggplant recipes.  Hope you enjoy!

Italian Caponata

Finished eggplant caponata garnished with fresh basil.

Finished eggplant caponata garnished with fresh basil.

This easy recipe makes a great dip or spread, and also can be used as the filling for a wonderful vegetarian sandwich!


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I prefer red or yellow)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Fresh basil, shredded, for garnish (optional)
Sauteing celery for caponata.

Sauteing celery for caponata.

Sauteing vegetables for caponata.

Sauteing vegetables for caponata.

Heat oil in a large skillet, then add the celery and saute until tender, but crisp (about 2 minutes).  Add the eggplant and saute another 2 minutes or so, until it begins to soften.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, with their juices, along with the raisins (if using) and oregano.  Simmer, stirring often, until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.  Add the vinegar, sugar, capers, salt, and pepper.  Season to taste (see “Season to Taste — What exactly does that mean“) with additional salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Garnish with shredded basil, if desired.  Enjoy on crackers, as a dip, or in sandwiches.


Eggplant Dip

This is another great dip or spread using ingredients easily found in most cruising areas.


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Eggplant are pierced before roasting.

Eggplant are pierced before roasting.

Pierce the eggplant several times with a fork, then place on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the eggplant is very soft and mushy.  If you are in a hot climate and don’t want your oven on for that long, you could instead grill the eggplant over a low flame until soft.  Cut the eggplant in half and drain, cut side down, in a colander until almost cool.  Scoop out the pulp and puree in a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients.


Vegetarian Curry

Ingredients for vegetarian curry mis-en-place.

The curry is much easier if you prepare all of your ingredients before starting to cook.

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  I’ve found that I can leave out or substitute ingredients that aren’t readily available in my cruising area.  The resulting curry is delicious.  The recipe makes a large amount, so you can serve a crowd or have lots of tasty leftovers.


  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala (optional, or use additional curry powder)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (or substitute about 1 teaspoon dried ginger)
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chile (seeds and ribs removed if you’d like a milder curry)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I don’t bother to peel it)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Toasting ground spices to enhance flavor.

Toasting ground spices to enhance flavor.

Toast the curry powder and garam masala (if using) in a small skillet, stirring constantly, until spices become fragrant and darken slightly.  Set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and sweet potato.  Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until the onions are caramelized and the potatoes are slightly browned on the edges.

Reduce heat to medium.  Clear the center of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with the garlic, ginger, chile, and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add the toasted spices and cook about 1 minute longer.  Add the green beans (if using) and eggplant and cook (stirring constantly) until the spices coat the vegetables, about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, water, chickpeas, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits.  Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in cream or coconut milk and continue to cook until heated through.  Adjust seasoning and serve over rice.  If you like, serve with traditional curry condiments, such as yogurt, chutney, or relish.


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Southern Biscuits

Fresh Southern BiscuitsBiscuits made from Bisquick or homemade mix are good (see Homemade Biscuit Mix), but sometimes I want a good southern biscuit.  Getting buttermilk (one of the staple ingredients in southern biscuits) in many cruising areas is difficult, and often impossible.  Because I didn’t want to rely on soured milk or other buttermilk substitutes, I went in search of a recipe that produces reliably good southern biscuits without buttermilk.

Heavy cream and self-rising flour are the only ingredients.

Heavy cream and self-rising flour are the only ingredients.

I think I came up with a winner in the recipe below.  In its simplest form it uses two ingredients:  self-rising flour and heavy cream.  Okay, three if you count the melted butter brushed on the completed biscuits.  Granted, self-rising flour can be difficult to find in some areas.  In New England, self-rising choices are limited and I generally can’t get soft southern-style self-rising flour brands like Martha White or White Lily Flour.  I have included two variations on my recipe: one which uses self-rising flour (either commercial or that you’ve made yourself); and a second using regular flour and baking powder which is only slightly more complicated and also produces good results.  Even if you don’t usually bake aboard, give biscuits a try.  It’s a quick way to introduce fresh, warm bread into your cruising menus.

Easy Southern Biscuits

  • 2 — 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 — 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • melted butter
Cream is poured into the self-rising flour.

Cream is poured into a well in the self-rising flour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Choose a baking pan and brush it with some of the melted butter. Because I like a soft exterior for my biscuits, I use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, so the biscuits will be touching.  If you like a crisper exterior, place them about an inch apart on a baking sheet.

Put 2 cups of self-rising flour in a large bowl, then “sift” with a fork or whisk.  Make a deep hollow in the flour and pour in 1 cup of the heavy cream.  Mix with a spatula or spoon in circular strokes to pull the flour into the cream.  Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened and the soft dough starts to pull away from the bowl.  Add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, if dry flour remains in the bottom of the bowl.  The goal is to create a fairly wet dough and handle it as little as possible.

The dough is lightly kneaded and shaped to the right thickness.

The dough is lightly kneaded and shaped to the right thickness.

Lightly sprinkle a board or countertop with some of the remaining flour.  Turn the dough out onto the floured surface.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour and flour your hands as well.  Pat the dough into a circle, then fold the dough in half.  Repeat just a couple of times until the dough seems to come together.  Pat the dough out into a circle one more time until the dough is 1/2-inch thick for normal biscuits, 3/4-inch thick for tall biscuits, and 1-inch thick for giant biscuits.

Biscuits are cut.

Biscuits are cut and then placed in a pan or on a baking sheet.

Brush off any visible flour and cut the biscuits with a lightly-floured cutter (or a drinking glass if you don’t have a biscuit cutter).  Move the biscuits to your pan or baking sheet.  Bake for a total of 10 – 14 minutes, rotating the pan at the 6 minute mark.  The biscuits should be a light golden brown when done.  Remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with melted butter.  Turn the biscuits out upside-down onto a plate and allow to cool slightly.  Turn right-side up and serve while still warm.

Okay, so what if you don’t have self-rising flour?  Keep reading….

After baking the biscuits are brushed with melted butter.

After baking, the biscuits are brushed with melted butter.

Making your own self-rising flour

It’s easy to make your own self-rising flour, which is handy to keep on hand.

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (or 3 cups all purpose and 3 cups cake flour)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder

Whisk together all ingredients and store in a sealed container (preferably in the fridge or freezer) until needed.  Makes enough for about 3 batches of biscuits.

If you don’t want to make up a batch of self-rising flour, you can get the same results by using the following recipe:

Southern Cream Biscuits

  • 2  – 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup each all-purpose and cake flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional, if you like a sweeter biscuit)
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then proceed as in the Southern Biscuits recipe above.


Fair winds and following seas,

Heather, The Cruising Cook

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