Fig.2. The Ideal Fry-Pan.
When we come to the question of the food supplies to be
taken aboard, much will depend upon the individual. Hard tack, soft
tack, flour, beans, corned beef, salt pork, bacon, hams, canned meats,
sardines, canned fruits and vegetables, cornmeal, lard, butter, cheese,
condensed milk, sweetened and unsweetened, coffee, tea, cocoa,
chocolate, pepper, salt, mustard, vinegar, poultry seasoning, sugar and
rice are some of the staple comestibles that suggest themselves, but
these may be added to or subtracted from according to circumstances.
A ham is one of the most easily procured comestibles. Pick
out a small one, not too fat. If you want it tough as leather, boil it
furiously for a couple of hours, then haul it out of the pot and eat
it. If you want a delicate, tender and juicy ham soak it in a bucket of
fresh water for twelve hours. Then scrape it well and pop it into a big
pot full of cold fresh water. Let it come slowly to the boil. As soon
as the water reaches the boiling stage, regulate the heat so that a
gentle simmering, the faintest possible ebullition is kept up for five
or six hours, according to the size of the joint. Then take it out of
the pot and skin it. The rind will come off as easily as an old shoe.
Then return meat to the water in which it was boiled and let it remain
until it is quite cold. Next, dish it, drain it and put it in the ice
box to harden. Cut in very thin slices with a sharp knife, and you will
admit that cooked after this scientific formula ham is mighty fine
Fig.3. A Nest of Stew-pans.
Corned beef cooked after this same fashion will also be a
success. The secret is a simple one of chemistry. Hard boiling hardens
the fibers and tears the meat to rags. Gentle simmering softens the
meat while allowing it to retain its juices.
The navy bean at present in use, though much may be said
in its praise, is far inferior to the lima bean. This legume if
substituted for the insignificant (by comparison only) little bean on
which Boston breakfasts every Sabbath morn will be found so palatable
that the lesser variety will never again be used. Procure a quart of
lima beans. Pick out all that are shriveled or discolored. Soak the
rest all night in plenty of cold fresh water and in the morning you
will find them plump and tender. Wash them well and place them in a pot
on the fire with a square piece of salt pork weighing three-quarters of
a pound; simmer them gently till they are tender, but not till they
reach the porridge stage. On the contrary, let each bean be separate
like the soft and swelling grains of well-cooked rice. Strain through a
colander, saving a pint of the water in which they were boiled. Pack in
the bean pot. Bury the chunk of pork in the beans. Season the pint of
water reserved as mentioned above, to your liking. Pour over the beans
in the pot and put in the oven to bake. The flavoring of beans depends
upon the taste of the cook.
Sirloin steaks are a good staple viand. Make the butcher
cut them not less than two inches thick. If you cannot grill them heat
your fry-pan almost red-hot. Put no fat in the pan. Place your steak
cut into convenient chunks into the hot pan. Let one side sear for a
minute or so to keep in the juices. Then turn meat over. It will be
cooked sufficiently for most palates in five or six minutes. Place on a
piping hot platter, spread some fresh butter on the steak, sprinkle
with pepper, and pipe to grub. Chops may be cooked in the same way.
Meat may be roasted in an iron pot if the cook has no
oven. Moderate heat, continuous care to prevent burning, and frequent
basting are the three requisites of a successful pot roast.
So far as beverages are concerned, useful hints in that
direction are given in Fig.5, which shows a picturesque and shipshape
vessel to carry when a-cruising.
There is no daintier dish than a fresh, fat lobster,
generous and juicy, just hauled from the pot in which he was caught.
Pick out a particularly lively specimen of medium size but heavy. The
cock lobster may be distinguished from the hen by the narrowness of the
tail, the upper two fins of which are stiff and hard, while the tail of
the hen is broader and the fins soft. The male has the higher flavor;
the flesh, too, is firmer and the color when boiled is a deeper red.
The hen is well adapted for lobster a la Newburg, hut for eating on the
half-shell a male in prime condition is far preferable.
Fig.4. Ice Tub.
The secret of cooking lobsters is to plunge them into a
pot of furiously boiling sea water, and to keep the water in a
condition of fast ebullition for just twenty minutes. Fresh water to
which salt is added will not do so well. Salt water fresh from the
ocean is indispensable. It brings out the correct flavor and imparts an
indefinable zest to the lobster. Hard shell crabs may be boiled in the
same way, but ten minutes will be ample time.
All fresh vegetables are, in the opinion of the writer,
improved in flavor by cooking them in sea water fresh from the ocean,
not from a harbor contaminated by noxious influences from the shore.
All vegetables should be immersed in boiling water and cooked till
done. Potatoes will take about half an hour to boil, but cabbages,
carrots and turnips much longer. I should not advise the cooking of the
last-named three esculents aboard a small craft. Canned asparagus,
French peas and string beans take little time to prepare and are
excellent if a reliable brand is purchased. Open the can, drain off the
liquid and throw it away. Wash the vegetables, strain the water off,
place in a stew-pan with a lump of butter, and heat thoroughly. The
liquid of canned vegetables is unfit for human food.
Hard clams or quahogs are plentiful at any port during the
boating season. The recuperative qualities of the small variety served
ice-cold on the half shell with a dash of Tabasco sauce and no other
seasoning are beyond praise. Now while the little clam is excellent
eating just as soon as opened from the shell, taking care to waste none
of his precious juices, his elder brother also has inestimable
The easiest and simplest method of preparing clam broth is
to scrub the clams well and wash them in several waters. Put them in an
iron pot, without any C water or liquid. Let them r remain on the fire
for twenty minutes. Then strain the juice, into which put a little
fresh butter, a small quantity of milk, and a dash of red pepper. Drink
Fig.5. A Traveling Companion.
Never add water to clam broth, and never let it boil after
the milk is added, as it will curdle nine times out of ten.
To make clam soup, clean the clams as for broth. Place
them in an iron pot on the stove. As soon as they open take them out of
their shells and chop very fine. A hardwood bowl and a two-bladed
chopping knife are the best apparatus for this job. Strain the clam
liquor, return to the pot, add minced onions to taste and the chopped
clams; simmer gently for one hour, thicken to taste with cracker dust,
season with sweet herbs and pepper; let boil fast for ten minutes, take
off the stove and add some hot milk and a lump of fresh butter. Serve.
Clam chowder is an old sea dish whose popularity seems
likely never to wane. It is a simple dish to prepare, although many
cooks make a mystery of it. Cut half a pound of streaky salt pork into
small cubes. Fry in an iron pot together with half a dozen medium sized
sliced onions until they are light brown. Chop fifty hard shell clams
fine. Peel and slice thin a dozen large raw potatoes. Break up four sea
biscuits and soak till soft in cold water or milk. Scald and peel and
slice six ripe and juicy tomatoes. Put these ingredients into the pot
in layers, pour over them the strained juice of the clams. Season with
red and black pepper, sauces and herbs to taste. Cover an inch with hot
fresh water and simmer for three hours. A pint of sour California
claret added just before serving is an improvement. An old hen makes
tiptop chowder cooked in the same fashion.
Fish chowder may be prepared in a similar way. Cod,
haddock, sea bass and bluefish are good made into a chowder.
The soft shell clam makes a delicate stew or broth. The
tough parts should be rejected from the chopping bowl. Boiled for
twenty minutes and eaten from the shell with a little butter and pepper
they are also very appetizing. A big potful soon disappears.
There is no excuse for the yachtsman neglecting to enjoy
the delights of fish fresh from the sea. Fishing tackle should always
be carried. Bluefish and mackerel may be caught by trolling; and if you
have fisherman's luck, once in a blue moon a Spanish mackerel may fall
to your lot. If so, that day must be marked by a white stone, for a
Spanish mackerel transferred in about two shakes of a lamb's tail from
the fish hook to the fry-pan, or better still, if your arrangements
permit, to the gridiron or broiler, is good enough for the gods to feed
on. Two axioms should be borne in mind, namely, to fry in plenty of
boiling fat or to plunge into boiling water. Never humiliate a fish by
placing him in a cold fry-pan or into a cooking pot of cold water.
Before frying fish dip in well-beaten egg and then
sprinkle with bread crumbs or cracker dust, dip in egg again, and then
add more bread crumbs or cracker dust. This is for epicures. For
ordinary seafarers if the fish is rolled in yellow cornmeal without the
egg the result will be nearly the same. Cut up large fish into suitable
sizes, but fry small fish whole.
Soft shell crabs should be cooked in boiling fat. When
brown they are done. Ten minutes is usually enough to cook them
Always when you boil fish of any kind indigenous to salt
water or fresh put them in boiling water either from the sea or fresh
water well salted. A little vinegar added is good. A two pound fish
should cook sufficiently in fifteen or at most twenty minutes. Fish
with white flesh take longer to boil than those with dark.
An excellent sauce for boiled fish may be made thus: Put a
piece of butter as big as an egg in a saucepan or a tomato can; heat
till it bubbles, add a heaping tablespoonful of flour, stir till quite
smooth; pour slowly into this, stirring continually, a pint of the
water the fish was cooked in, and add two hard boiled eggs chopped
fine. This may be flavored with anchovy sauce or a few drops of Harvey
or Worcestershire. Some prefer the addition of a little lemon juice or
even vinegar. Every man to his taste!
When a very little boy I sailed in the Derwent, a small
schooner engaged in carrying bottles from Sunderland to London. The
bottles were taken in from the factory where they were made, stowed in
the hold of the schooner and transported to a wharf at Wapping. Bottles
are a clean kind of freight, and our skipper being a very particular
kind of a man the Derwent was kept as bright as a new pin outside and
inside, alow and aloft. On this dashing little vessel I was cook and
cabin boy. There was no regular galley on deck, simply an iron cooking
stove erected on the foreside of the mainmast; and on that in storm and
calm I boiled and baked for a crew of four for more than a year -- in
fact till I quit the coasting trade and signed away foreign. My skipper
took me under his special guidance. The grub had to be well cooked and
the deck kept spotless or I used to suffer. Skipper and mate were
epicures after a fashion, go I had to keep my weather eye open.
My experience in merchant vessels and pleasure craft has
fitted me to write with some small assumption of authority on the
subject of sea cooking.
Some of my methods may seem queer and perhaps grotesque,
but condemn them not till you have tested them in the crucible of