Confessions Of A Cookbook Fanatic
When I designed the galley for our Tayana 58, Scaramouche, I gave careful consideration to the layout of my counter space, my storage lockers, even the inclusion of my 1,100-watt microwave convection oven. Sure, I had ample space for provisions in my two refrigerators and huge freezer, but the real challenge came when we moved aboard and I needed to decide just how many cookbooks would join us on our sabbatical. Two years and two dozen cookbooks later, I think I’m beginning to get things under control.
A Cruising Chef’s Recommendations
Feasts Afloat, Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Elizabeth Wheeler
Originally titled, The Yachting Cookbook, this has been aboard every Scaramouche we’ve owned. From the coast of Maine to the islands of the Caribbean, Jennifer and Elizabeth have prepared beautiful, simple meals aboard every imaginable craft, from Grilled Lime-Marinated Pork to Caribbean Lobster. Every page is eye-catching and realistically shown served in the cockpit, down below, or on the beach. Eggs in Hell are billed as “good for what ails you after a night of over-indulgence.” I concur. Notes, quotes, and logs of passages are welcome additions to the menus.
Pressure Cooking for Everyone, Rick Rogers and Arlene Ward
After dinner aboard el Regalo with cruising friends Brian and Jo Don, I knew I had to re-create their Risotto with Butternut Squash and Sausage. Easy enough. Order up this great cookbook, fire up your pressure cooker, and away you go to your next potluck! Once intimidated by using a pressure cooker, recipes for Deviled Short Ribs, Osso Bucco Presto, along with gumbos, chowders, and chili had me convinced I never had to slave over a hot stove in a galley again. Two winters in the Bahamas and the easiest Corned Beef and Cabbage has assured us a great St. Patty’s Day dinner aboard. Add Lorna Sass’s The Pressured Cook and you’re all set.
Location, Location, Location
The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook, 2000 edition, Joseph Hall and Elaine Sullivan
OK, this is where I got the best recipe for scones. Though I may have altered the fillings, many a visiting crew have enjoyed currants, cranberries, or blueberries in my version aboard Scaramouche. Pictures, sketches, and stories abound. Plenty of “how-to” instructions are included, such as opening clams, shelling lobster, and breaking down a chicken. Joshua Slocum would be envious of his namesake Fish Chowder. If only we could catch our own striped bass for the grill, we could do their recipe proud!
Recipes from a Very Small Island, Linda and Martha Greenlaw
Linda Greenlaw, former swordfishing boat captain, confesses to not being a great cook, but she’s a great writer, and her mom surely can cook. When I want blueberry pancakes, this is the cookbook I turn to. Want to bake a mean cobbler, pudding, or buckle? No better New England/Maine baking can be found. Try the great recipes for swordfish and, of course, the lobster roll. You’ll enjoy a chuckle when you read Linda’s recipe for a great beach clambake. Better yet, catch the ferry and visit Isle au Haut, Maine, but don’t look for a restaurant, best to hope for a chance meeting and an autographed copy of the cookbook.
The Nantucket Table and The Nantucket Holiday Table, Susan Simon
I can’t get enough of Nantucket when we’re anchored there in the summer: endless biking, shopping, and harbor touring. One only has to hike or bike to reach the local grocer or fishmonger and daily farm trucks are on the main street to save you the trip. Once you have fresh ingredients at hand, there are plenty of recipes to try: Spicy Summer Salsa with Grilled Filet Mignon is pure decadence while at anchor watching a late-summer sunset. I received rave reviews at the Green Turtle Cay Christmas potluck for Spirited Gingerbread. P.S.: Pick up a copy of Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm Cookbook when you’re on the island along with a basket of their fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
The Coastal Living Cookbook, 2004 edition, Coastal Living Editors
This compilation saved plenty of space aboard, not having to collect every issue of the magazine. Thankfully, many of my favorite recipes were included, but by far the most delicious is Lobster Frittata. Not limited to seafood, there are endless recipes from appetizers and cocktails to everything imaginable on the grill. Desserts are equally creative. East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, and the southern shores are all represented.
Best Recipes of the Bahamas, Lucy Hanley, and Conch & Crawfish, Flossteena De Witt and Arnold K. Elovaara
You can’t cruise the islands of the Bahamas without one of these books aboard. Where else will you learn to make Bahamian Mac and Cheese and Conch Fritters?
One Part Memoir, One Part Cookbook
An Embarrassment of Mangoes, Ann Vanderhoof
Part memoir, part cruising guide, sprinkled with island recipes down the Caribbean chain, this book is a must-have on the cruiser’s bookshelf. Vanderhoof’s chapter titles give you a hint of what’s to come: “Not Quite Seasoned, But Very Well Salted” and “That Demon Rum,” to name a few. And yes, mango salsa is a snap to make.
A Trip to the Beach and At Blanchard’s Table, Melinda and Robert Blanchard
Imagine selling your home and business in Vermont, packing up, moving to an island in the Caribbean (Anguilla) and building a new beachside restaurant with local talent. It is by far, the people of Anguilla that make these books so special, not only the food. “In a Hurry” sections are perfect suggestions when looking for ways to create or dress up an impromptu meal. Recipes include Dijon and Shallot Cream and Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges.
Seafood Grilling, Twice a Week, Evie Hansen
I found this on the shelf at Grossman’s Seafood in Mystic, Connecticut, while picking up fresh tuna and little neck clams. Now this cookbook goes into my bag when I head to the local market for additional ingredients. Sea Bass with Strawberry Salsa and Pan-Grilled Halibut with Shallot Salsa are fantastic. Chapters on nutrition, safety, preparation, and grilling make easy task of every imaginable variety of seafood. Recipes for marinades, rubs, sauces, and accompaniments are easy to follow and include easy-to-find ingredients. Hooray!
Pumpkin, Dee Dee Stovel
It has been suggested that I enter pumpkin rehab…I just love everything pumpkin, “a super food for all 12 months of the year.” And I literally did just that—cooking everything from Pumpkin Glazed Meatloaf to Pumpkin Curry Lamb all year. Barbecued chicken never tasted better with a spicy pumpkin glaze. And no anchorage is safe from my dinghy visits with a slice of Cranberry-Orange Pumpkin Bread.
True Blueberry, Linda Dannenberg
While cruising Southwest and Northeast Harbors in Maine, I came across True Blueberry just when I thought I could control my cookbook-buying binge. Not so. The Blueberry-Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping and Savory Blueberry Steak Sauce were too good to pass up and have dazzled visiting crews from the coves of Maine to the cays of the Bahamas.
The Wine Lover’s Cookbook, Sid Goldstein
This is a great book to own and to give as a gift. Organized by type of wine, there are plenty of recipes to match nicely, as well as alternative wines to serve and use. Some recipes may be a bit daunting, but there are still plenty that won’t intimidate you. For example, I served Duck Breasts with Honey, Ginger, and Lavender with Pinot Noir (the alternate) since I didn’t often buy Viognier, let alone know how to pronounce it. For Coffee and Spice-Rubbed Lamb, skip the recipe, dash over to Williams Sonoma, and buy the coffee rub. Then pick up a nice Cabernet Sauvignon and you’re on your way!
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten
After first tuning into The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, I was hooked on Ina Garten’s cooking and entertaining. If only I had known her specialty food store was in East Hampton, New York, when we used to cruise Long Island Sound, I would have shopped there endlessly. Guacamole, Turkey Tea Sandwiches, Beef Bourguignon, Fingerling Potatoes, and Coconut Cupcakes are just the beginning of endlessly wonderful recipes. Even making “the perfect cup of coffee” was possible after following her recipe. Ina is the queen of entertaining, preparing in advance and leaving ample time to spend with your guests.
Barefoot Contessa: Family Style, Ina Garten
Go straight to Tequila Lime Chicken, move on to Linguine with Shrimp Scampi, and go for all-out comfort food with Parmesan Chicken and Broccoli and Bow Ties. Slow-Cooked Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Herbs couldn’t be simpler or tastier. Garten’s husband, Jeffrey, is one lucky man, and now so is my husband, Bob. And, you will use her list of nine ingredients and ten kitchen tools over and over.
Barefoot Contessa: At Home, Ina Garten
Yes, she lives in the tony Hamptons, but who can resist reading about how she made it her home and especially how she set up her kitchen. I agree that home is wherever you are. Try California BLTs and you’ll never be bored again. Bob’s all-time favorite is Grilled Tuna Salad and we have successfully prepared this in almost every harbor from Maine to Florida. Even Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil tastes out of this world. I never would have imagined Balsamic Strawberries to taste so wonderful, but prepare these next summer and you’ll impress everyone.
Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, Ina Garten
When we were preparing the boat for our cruising sabbatical, we installed satellite TV on board so we could watch, among other channels, the Food Network, and faithfully tuned in to watch The Barefoot Contessa. Billed as “fabulous flavor from simple ingredients,” we follow along as Garten prepares a variety of courses, always with flair and style. Each chapter includes a great Top-10 list such as, “Cook and bake like a pro” and “What not to serve at a party.” This year, we grilled Tuscan Lemon Chicken in the Bahamas while anchored off Frey’s Mangrove on Elbow Cay, and Mustard-Roasted Fish worked perfectly with local grouper from Down Deep Fishing in Hope Town, Abaco.
The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
Can’t find the recipe you’re looking for? It will probably be in here. Horseradish Cream Sauce goes just as well with Peppercorn-Crusted Prime Rib (Gourmet magazine) or Corned Beef and Cabbage (Pressure Cooking for Everyone). Can’t remember roasting times? No problem, it’s all here, too—from meats and poultry to fish and game. Don’t leave port without it.
The Cruising Chef Cookbook, Michael Greenwald
The realities of provisioning and planning for offshore and coastal cruising are easily handled here. Every chapter is filled with practical recipes and clever ideas on improving local provisions. And I agree a vacuum sealer is a “must-have” item for the cruising chef.
Six Ingredients or Less, Carlean Johnson
This is the cookbook I leave out for Bob on the rare occasions that I’m not aboard. Our popular Sunday brunches aboard Scaramouche now regularly include Stuffed Flank Steak. And you can bake brownies with only five ingredients!
Breakfast in Bed, Carol Frieberg
This was a great find on a business trip and has a collection of recipes from the best B&Bs on the West Coast. No one would dare stay in their bunk and miss Baked Eggs Florentine or Blueberry Sourdough Cobbler.
Store to Shore Cookbook, Capt. Jan Robinson
Every boater has to have at least one of Jan’s cookbooks aboard. This one features a collection of menus from charter yachts around the world and includes the shopping lists to go with them. Wouldn’t a day aboard a crewed yacht being served a sumptuous breakfast, followed by a picnic lunch, then cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and freshly grilled fish for dinner sound wonderful right about now?
My Cooking Journal, Ryland, Peters, and Small
When I left my recipe box ashore during my early years of part-time cruising, I transcribed many of my favorite family recipes into a well-organized cooking journal. Don’t leave the dock without one. Mine even includes pockets to collect recipes torn from pages of cooking magazines, along with helpful tips and basic recipes. Brunch was and still is my favorite meal to host. Anywhere from two to 20 guests have come aboard and enjoyed Company Eggs, Fog Island Turkey Hash, and Buttermilk Waffles, to name a few, pulled from my journal.
If you see us in the anchorage, hail us and we’ll be happy to share a slice of what’s hot out of the oven; it just might be my Mom’s all-time best Sour Cream Coffee Cake!