Food, Glorious Food

I really don’t actually need an excuse to peruse thousands of recipes, but throw in a planned lifetime of sailing across the oceans of the world to get to perfect cruising destinations in our own yacht and you have what makes me get up in the morning!

Because a sailboat is slow, meaning more time on the water getting to destinations than actual storage life of fresh foods, together with the reality that shopping in foreign far-flung ports, although providing exciting sensory stimulation, also requires foreign currency.  Sadly, the biggest bang for our buck only exists at home in the land we leave behind, so we have to operate as frugally as we can, meaning carry as much of what you fancy from home.   This has led me to venture into the world of canning and (gasp) dehydrating.  Pinterest has become an invaluable resource and I’m sure I have become known in cyberspace as the virtual queen of pinning (a dubious title but, hey ho).

Thinking food, planning food, trying canning, trying the food in the cans, my kitchen is constantly buried under a crammed deluge of vegetables, meat, chicken, fruit and jars, jars, jars!

This afternoon, browsing through soup recipes, I suddenly felt like a lentil soup I used to make some years back and scanned and searched the net for a recipe.  Not finding anything remotely close, I decided to try to make it from memory, check the taste and then preserve it for later, by canning.

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Do look out for Orange Lentil Soup with Bacon. 

 

Making a Home a House

As I watch the painter masterfully concealing the traces of family memories layered on the walls of our home, coldly transforming what was, to what someday soon, will be – someone else’s future house, I allow my thoughts to wander freely, dispassionately, at will.   How does a house become a home in the first place? I muse.  How does that house, that cold lump of bricks and mortar evolve, transition, morph into home and hearth?  Carrying the very DNA of yourself through the history of family and friends and living, woven through its very structure.

 

Rupert

 
In our case, our house sprang from humble beginnings – a plot of land, overgrown with rubble and weeds, requiring a good imagination in order to envision what the architect saw in his mind’s eye, as he synched it to the perfect plan We had found over the Internet.  In the beginning, we fell in love with a specific design from the USA and imported that plan, Fedexing the start, the birth of a dream.  Local architects transformed it from imperial measurements to the required local metric ones and penned it wonderfully onto the paper of our plans, fitting and positioning it just so carefully onto the plot that was our piece of land, then transformed/transcribed it miraculously through a small army of contractors, builders, tilers, plasterers, painters, and their kin into some semblance of the house we were going to make home.  One day, a long year afterward, our house had finally taken shape, rose like a Phoenix through the piles of impossible dust and rubble and we finally moved in.

The house slowly fitted around us and we into it, like a garment until it became comfortable and no longer just our house, but our home.  Vestiges of Christmases and birthdays, family gatherings, holidays and celebrations hide in every corner, and all the secrets those walls had heard whispered are held behind the pictures and paintings we had acquired as time went on.

Now, those walls were being painted over with a strange newness, obliterating the old familiar smells of past memories, wiped away are the years of sometimes, (oftentimes) messy, family living, all in readiness for the next family, to imprint upon it and make it their home.  

How does an emotional home become an un-emotional house again?  Is there an invisible umbilical cord that can never be severed? Can there be a new home after this one, I allow myself to think?  Can one simply package up one’s possessions and leave the memories behind?  Do the memories follow? 

SailAway

It has been a good year since the sea/sail bug first bit.  Not a single day goes by without my having to devour books, essays and stories, blogs, snippets and questions from the Cruisers’ Forum;  trailing YouTube videos all on that one subject – “sailing away”.

I long for the day when we decide on the boat that will carry us over the sea to Skye!  Then, getting to know her, getting used to handling her, docking her and playing hide and seek with the big ships coming and going though our home Port – Durban Harbour.  Getting her ready for that eventual long trip across the Atlantic.  My thoughts and day dreams are a-jumble, a magpie’s nest of things such as 

  1. Provisioning, what would I buy?  
  2. Possessions, how would we choose what comes and what stays behind?  
  3. Preparation of food appliances?  My blender? Juicer? Is there enough room?
  4. Passports and visas
  5. Passageway Long term sailing plan?  Short term “bite size” hops to get there?  

Oh, I acknowledge that it has been written that “a sailor’s plans are written in the sand, at low tide..” But, one still needs the planning stages, the reality check to get you long distance cruising ready.  
 Readiness creeps up on you, so I am quietly and efficiently (read ruthlessly) going over my huge stash of magazines (for too long having enjoyed pride of place in my heart and home), ripping out only those recipes I would like to make whilst living on a boat.  Filling a scrapbook instead with those recipes I know I will definitely make and not those that merely sound good, along with the list of ingredients it would take to make it, once, twice and maybe even three times over.  Alongside that, I carefully and realistically list the ingredients I can substitute from a tin or packet when the inevitable lack of fresh produce is available, which is a real probability on long passages.

   

All the while dreaming of meeting up with our children and grandchildren living on opposite sides of the world.  Isn’t that what dreaming is all about?

The Story of Babette

She watches me as I knit, as I pick up yet another project. Her eyes are on me and on the many packets of wool/wool blends/cottons and /bamboo blends of yarn in every gorgeous colour as they cross my threshold.
She looks up briefly as I attend to the workbox where she lies, still in pieces but smiles in anticipation as I start counting the number of blocks I have already crocheted, mentally working out how many I still have to go before she is complete.


Her name is Babette and she is an interesting blanket I started with much excitement. I “saw” her in my mind’s eye, in combinations of reds – ruby, chilli, paprika, garnet, scarlet, crimson…and all the shades in between, completed and laid out luxuriously on my bed. Big enough for my King Size bed, big enough to cuddle under on cold winter nights. Beautiful enough to be displayed neatly on the edge of my bed or elegantly draped over the bedding box…
Sadly, though, she still has a fair way to go before the “display” stage and I keep losing interest as the seasons travel from winter’s chill, through mild spring to sizzling hot summer.
I haven’t been idle though. Babette can certainly attest to that. I have been busy starting and finishing other projects;  working on anything else, but her, and I can feel her watching me every time I pick up something other than a “shades of red” square.

Finally I carefully get to lay out every block, fitting the pieces together like a puzzle, then package them in individual packs according to each row to simplify the final assemblage.

Complete at last, save for the last few rounds of her edging. I am loving her in all her scarlet glory and cannot wait to show her the next lot of pure wool purchased specifically for the next project – her Ripple Blanket companion. Because every girl needs one.
Toujours Babette!

Learning to Fly

Learning to sail but we don’t have a boat…

Well, we did our Day Skipper’s course with Atlantic Sailing School locally in Durban, joined Point Yacht Club and lunched frequently at both Point as well as the Royal Natal YC, testing the reciprocity of the latter and desperately trying to feel a part of the cruising life.  We have walked the grounds at the Marina, gazed longingly at the sailing craft coming and going through the harbour mouth.  We have sipped on our cold drinks whilst watching with avid interest the bigger “blue water” yachts preparing for their adventure.  We have squinted at their loads coming aboard, trying to see what and how they provision, feeling the excitement mounting as they prepare the boat and the crew for what lies beyond the harbour mouth!  Will they head out East toward Mozambique, and on perhaps to Madagascar?  Mauritius and Seychelles? Chagos islands?  Thailand and beyond ….?  Or, will it be West towards Port Elizabeth, Kynsna and toward Cape Town? Langebaan?  Beyond?  Up to Luderitz before crossing the Atlantic to St Helena and then on to South America?  The vessel looks low in the water;  she is heavily laden and plastic drums of water/diesel cling to her decks securely fastened in place with bungee cord.  “What’s for dinner?” I muse.  Somewhere out in the middle of the ocean where the Dolphins and whales will surely cavort across her sail path? “Where is your next waypoint?”, I wonder as I try to imagine their life on board.  The vessel motors slowly out of sight, waiting for permission to leave the harbour from Durban Port Control.  It’s a busy commercial port and ships enter and exit the harbour throughout the day and night – monstrous container ships with pilot vessels to assist them, that come and go non stop.  Soon, the sailing boat is free of the restraint of slowly motoring out of the harbour mouth and her sails will billow out, to catch every sip of wind.  She will dance and skip quietly and happily over the undulating waves, as they crest and valley and the vast ocean will accept its latest guest as the ice slowly melts away in my glass.  “Next time, we will bring the binoculars”, says my husband as we gather up our belongings and make our way to the car.