Monday, December 21, 2009

Anchoring, Pressure Cookers and Alcohol Stoves

We spent part of this past weekend aboard Gypsea.  Maybe we should have spent the entire weekend as it was the first pretty weekend we've had in a while, but we had chores to do at the land-based home. We went to the Pearl Farmer's Market on Saturday morning instead of the Austin market. While the Austin market has more vendors, the Pearl market seems friendlier to us. We wanted our last market visit of the year to be the Pearl market. I didn't beat out whoever cleans the beef lady out of short ribs.  I'll perfect my technique next year!

We visited Yarnorama in Paige TX Saturday early afternoon. It's a great place and may well become one of my favorite LYS (Local Yarn Shops). She has an entire wall of spinning fiber. I walked out with two new spindles, two DVD's, two bags of fluff, and a skein of locally-produced yarn. One bag of fluff is a merino/yak blend, which just BEGS to be petted.  It's so soft. The other is a wool/bamboo/mohair blend. Both are spinning well on the spindles. Since spindle-spinning works on the boat with its limited space, I'm converting as much spinning as possible to the spindle.

We found ourselves on the boat by late afternoon. The first thing we discovered was that we were out of fresh water! Apparently, we'd used more last visit than we realized. After refilling the fresh water tank, I brought out the new 4-quart pressure cooker. Opinion among cruising cooks seems to validate the importance of a pressure cooker aboard a sailboat. Because it cooks so much more quickly, it uses less fuel. The new pressure cookers are much less scary and more safe than the older versions. I have a 6-quart model at home, but only find myself using it for dried beans. One of my current resolutions is to learn to cook in it. While we were shopping for "boat food", I carried the cookbook that came with the 4-quart model and chose ingredients for a kale-potato risotto. Later, on the boat with fresh water tank filled, alcohol pods filled and ingredients prepared, I waded into seeing how a pressure cooker would work on an alcohol stove. Let's merely say that it was the quickest, easiest, tastiest risotto I've ever made. In fact, with the pressure cooker, risottos become daily fare. Contrary to popular opinion among many sailors, the alcohol stove is a fine heat source.

Sunday morning found us rigging the anchor rode to the anchor and motoring out to the Sometimes Islands (at least the lake level is up so they're not the Sometimes Penninsula!) to practice anchoring. This was our first time to anchor since our advanced sailing classes, our first time to anchor Gypsea, and our first time without our instructor or other knowledgable person by our side.  It took us two tries, but we did it! The anchor didn't set the first time, but the second time I felt it hit bottom soundly.  It drug only a little as we backed away from it and then set securely.  We shut off the engine and proceeded to settle back to watch the afternoon sailboat traffic on the lake. I wandered below to fix lunch, this being the second time to prepare a full meal while not in the marina. As calm as the lake was, it's still a different ballgame to cook in the relative stillness of the marina as opposed to open water.  Lunch was farmer's market veggies with homemade hummus brought from home and a potato/cheese dish I made up on the fly with ingredients we had on board. It's such a luxury to sit in the cockpit on a sunny day in late December, eating lunch and watching the sailboats go by.  As the afternoon wore on, it got colder, so we pulled up the anchor and went back to the marina.

We opted to cook an early supper on the boat and then head home. We're finding that our desire to eat in restaurants has faded amazingly. We've been a month away from having anything in a restaurant and find we don't miss it at all. But this is another story entirely!

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