A Boat on the Side
16May/120

Salad Daze

If you’re expecting endless stories about boats and the sea there’s more to come but I do have a non-boat life and one part of it is cooking.

My mother, a wise and patient woman, taught me the basic principles at the age of thirteen or fourteen when it was clear I wasn’t going to ‘grow out of’ any food phobias in a hurry. I had a pronounced aversion to nearly all forms of meat so rather than trying to force it on me she said something like ‘Right, my boy, you can learn to cook your own meals – I haven’t got the time to pander . . . . .’  So over the last half a century or more I have learnt a few things about food and cooking.

My father was a journalist who later founded a weekly magazine called Foodnews International which is still going today, so it’s in the blood, if you like. Both he and mum were exceptionally widely travelled and cosmopolitan for their times – most post-war people were flat out trying to recover from the madness of world conflagration to think of travelling to far flung places and returning with exotic recopies. So I was lucky indeed and my childhood was blessed not only in the culinary department, but in many other ways – we owned a series of sailing boats for starters.

One of the many memorable trips mum and dad did was to journey up the West Coast of Canada in a seaplane, ostensibly to report on the great salmon run but when they returned they were still glowing. Which brings me neatly to the current project – that of the ongoing restoration of a Daydream 28 for a local man who lived in Western Canada for many years and sailed those magnificent waters. But first some recipes . . .  . .

This recipe I call Supersalad because not only is it really tasty and satisfying, the ingredients constitute a remarkable medicine chest of natural remedies for all sorts of common ailments like the dreaded Singapore Ear and the Valparaiso Rot. Eat this and you’ll hear your body saying things like ‘Oh thank you, thank you, I’ve put up with all this crap – junk food, booze, drugs – for years, so it’s about bloody time.’ That’s your body talking. Not mine, of course – mine is merely quietly appreciative of my culinary efforts.

Supersalad for Four

A Lettuce

Ingredients (organic where possible)

  • Assorted green stuff equivalent to about half an iceberg lettuce, mostly crisp inner leaves
  • A big handful of fresh mint leaves
  • A good handful of fresh basil roughly chopped
  • 1 red capsicum cut into chunks
  • 1 crisp apple (Pink Ladies are perfect) chopped into cubes
  • 1 small or half a large continental cucumber, sliced (delicately please!)
  • 2 or 3 celery stalks coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 quartered ripe tomatoes, preferably ones you can taste
  • 1 big handful of fresh been sprouts or any sprouts except alfalfa which I don’t like even though Annette does. Actually I don’t care for snow pea sprouts either, I suppose it’s those long stringy bits but anyway . . .
  • A few slim slices of white or red cabbage finely chopped
  • Fresh ginger – about as much as you fancy – I’d be slicing a couple of walnut-sized pieces into very fine strips.
  • 1 good clove of ‘Russian’ garlic or any non-Chinese garlic for that matter – in fact let’s declare the whole meal a Chinese-free one (unless you are in China) – support your local (in our case Australian) garlic growers – just don’t try kissing them, that’s all . . . . anyway chop it into tiny bits and make sure it’s dissipated throughout the salad.
  • 1-2 limes, halved and juiced
  • A good pinch of sea salt – do you expect anything else from a boatbuilder!
  • A table spoon or 2 of local non-heat-treated dark honey – ironbark is nice but for extra medicinal value go for NSW Jellybush or New Zealand Manuka 5+
  • A slurp of extra virgin olive oil – now there’s a lot of controversy about what actually qualifies for extra virgin – some of the big oilies are ruthless bastards and not above calling any old sump  oil ‘virgin.’ And while we’re on the subject, what’s this ‘extra virgin’ anyway? I mean you only get one shot at it and the sooner lost the better I  say – extra just doesn’t equate. And then there’s the one about the ex-virgin who’s lost it but still got the box it came in  . . . . . better stop there . . . .

Now for the fun bit – toss it around without splashing anything or getting it all over the floor – some one’s bound to notice you pulling bits of lettuce out from under the fridge and putting it back in the bowl – not a good look.

Serve with ripe avocados – they grow well here on Tamborine Mountain, very good and cheap.

Now sit down and relax for a bit – it’s been tough so far. Now for what I modestly call:

The Best Potato Salad in the World

A Dutch Cream Potato

  • Cook a kilo or so of good potatoes – Dutch Cream, King Edward or Nicola are good, scrubbed, not peeled. Cook until they are just firm but properly cooked. Cool off – the potatoes, not you, then dice but not too small
  • Add a small jar of Dutch or German whole egg mayonnaise and about 250 ml of cream
  • 4 or 5 hard-boiled free-range eggs (shells removed) well diced
  • One good sized bunch of chives finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of dill seeds
  • A good grind with the black pepper mill – a bit more than that, go on – let’s taste the stuff
  • About a teaspoon of sea salt

Now fold the lot carefully over and over until it’s all mixed together and looks the part. Of course you can vary the ingredients – I never measure anything, I just chuck it all in the bowl but use some common sense – if it doesn’t taste right, don’t come moaning to me.

Note: if you are running short of time and the guest are already on their way you can dice the potatoes first and put them in a large saucepan with the eggs. When cooked (only about 10-15 minutes) you can strain and rapidly cool them, eggs and all, by repeatedly rinsing in cold water.

Red Bean and Sesame

A Selection of Red Kidney Beans

  • Drain and rinse about one and a half cans of red kidney beans and put them into a bowl
  • Cover a big hot cast iron frying pan with sesame seeds and a pinch of sea salt (don’t use any oil) then stir them with a wooden spoon until they are golden brown, verging on burnt then quickly remove from pan, let them cool off a bit and empty them on to the beans
  • Drizzle with sesame oil and a few shakes of soy sauce
  • Spoon it all around a bit – the seeds should cover the beans

Serve with hot jacket potatoes – I mean straight out to the oven when everything – I mean everything! else is on the table. Open ‘em up and add lots of butter and don’t give me any of that cholesterol crap, either. Add salt and serve with some good quality cheeses. Here on Tamborine we are lucky to have a master cheesemaker who runs Witches Falls Cheese Company but choose cheese carefully – there’s an awful lot of over processed rubbery stuff masquerading as cheese out there. Anyway, their triple cream brie or washed rind cheddar tastes just like it should. They also brew their own beer too and very good it is. Over the years I’ve been compelled to taste the brews on a number of occasions to make sure the drinks are of a consistent quality. The situation will, of course, have to be closely monitored will into the future. So what more could you want – here’s a link http://www.witcheschasecheese.com.au/

Lastly this free plug could well have a positive effect on my remuneration or at least ensure products at staff discount – cheers!

Now back to boats and the one at the brewery is a Daydream 28, a rather nice 1950s designed double-ender with a bermudan sloop rig. Some pretty serious restoration is involved – here’s some photos of work in progress. We’re building a whole new cockpit which will be pre-sprayed and inserted in the big hole aft of the cabin.

Daydream Cockpit Under Construction

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