I thought he was done with hills – but oh no!

As I have probably said somewhere before I hate my galley kitchen floor.  It has an unnecessary lifting section with a number of raised ridges, presumably to stop you sliding (although we haven’t figured out how they would work).  It has to be the worst kitchen floor ever – even using a toothbrush to try to clean the ridges wasn’t always successful and it creaked and groaned when you walked on it.  Steve had added “Replace kitchen flooring” to his job list with the comment “make it easy to clean, earn brownie points!”  With the job list getting shorter and shorter he decided it was probably time to tackle this one so after having noticed a large shopping complex at Herouville St Clair on our bus trip from Caen, we thought it was as good a place as any to start our search.  After looking on line it didn’t appear that there was a suitable store there, however there was a large Carrefour Hyper Marché.  Steve managed to persuade me that we should take a cycle ride there anyway, because, well, you never know!

As we wanted to do some shopping on the way back at the E Leclerc supermarket at Blainville (my cheese mainly!!) we decided to head to Leclerc’s then follow the roads to Herouville – surely not difficult as they are relatively close together.  We arrived at Blainville and proceeded through the small town heading in the general direction of Caen as we could see the large hospital building as our point of reference.  Unfortunately the most direct route seemed to want to take us onto the very busy dual carriageway and as we didn’t fancy taking our chances on that it meant a detour (yes, you’ve guessed it) up an incline.

Steve’s homing pigeon had obviously taken the morning off and at one point we found ourselves back at the same point (bottom of the incline) after a nice ride through the housing estates!  We chose a different road which unfortunately was sending us west when we wanted to go south!  We took the first opportunity to head back in the right direction which involved a very steep downhill and, of course, the obligatory uphill too.  Steve managed to find at least three more hills for me – thanks darling, love you!!  The worst one was from Caen Golf up towards Herouville – a long drag on a very busy single carriageway road.  Steve didn’t want me to stop but it was either that or fall off!!  We were really not sure which way to go but by some quirk of fate we saw a load of flags flying (something that seems to happen in large shopping areas) so we headed towards them – not what we were looking for but it looked like we were at the top of the hill now!  Somehow we eventually ended up at Herouville St Clair Center Commercial – but unfortunately no lino shops!! We took the opportunity to pick up some lunch – bread, obligatory cheddar, salami, crisps and as a special treat – a four pack of eclairs – 2 coffee, 2 chocolate!!  Steve did comment that they didn’t feel the lightest but we didn’t think anything of it.

For the return trip we decided it would be easier to head towards the canal and follow the cycle path. Steve’s homing pigeon was back and within 5 minutes we were canal-side.  We decided to stop at one of the benches for lunch with a number of passers-by wishing us “bon appetit”.  After devouring our bread and cheese / salami, we decided to forgo the crisps and eat the eclairs.  Steve once again commented on their weight and on first bite we knew why.  We started with the coffee ones and instead of the light, fluffy cream we were expecting, they were choc-full of coffee crème patissiere.  I don’t like custard and don’t drink coffee so was surprised that I managed to eat it!  We were hoping that the chocolate one would be as expected however, as feared, it was full of chocolate crème pat. They were both pretty sickly – not sure which was worse!!  It might be a blessing in disguise as we won’t be rushing to buy anymore cakes for a while!! We managed to get back on our bikes and the trundle home was uneventful and surprising much quicker than the trip out!  As it turns out the trip there was about 15 km and the return only 8!

Steve was bored one afternoon and as I had some left over bean chilli he decided he would make me enchiladas.  For that he would need a special chilli sauce – so he took control of the kitchen and whilst I sat, reading, he started “creating”.  After a few minutes the smell (I know I should say aroma or something else pleasant) emanating from the galley was just like burnt milk, then lots of sizzling and he started choking.  I do not drink milk at all and was a bit concerned that there was going to be milk in my chilli sauce so headed to the steps down to the kitchen to see what was going on.  I started to ask “are you …..” when I also started choking.  I really don’t know what was going on but I had to get away from there (pleased that there was no milk in sight!!)  The end result was a very spicy chilli sauce, which made a lovely dinner for me!  He’s probably made enough for the next two years as he only used 2 teaspoons in my meal! Anyone for chilli sauce as a Christmas pressie?

Steve’s Recipe, adapted from one he found on the web:

Chilli Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons chilli powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cumin

Vegetable stock

Method

Heat the oil, cook out the flour (preferably in an extremely well-ventilated kitchen or have a slightly cooler pan), add remaining dry ingredients (choke) then add stock stirring as it cooks until it reaches the consistency of ketchup.  Allow to cool and use as desired (at your own risk!!)

Enchiladas with avocado, salsa and tortilla chips
Enchiladas with accompaniments

On the subject of food, I think I have finally managed to work out my flour requirements.  We have purchased some OO flour to make pizza (which works perfectly) and just use the French bread flour to make my bread and rolls – as long as I make sure the dough is quite wet before I knead it, it turns out perfectly each time!!

Having purchased quite a few courgettes cheaply we were desperately trying to think of different ways to cook them.  Steve suggested a courgette quiche – initially I didn’t think this was going to be a good idea as the recipes I found suggested frying sliced courgettes before placing them in the egg mixture.  Steve though had other ideas – he thought that we could grate it, sprinkle some salt on and get rid of the majority of the moisture that way.  The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea so I made another pastry case – this time I used a loose bottomed cake tin.  I was a bit apprehensive when Steve decided to remove the case from the tin, fill with the filling and bake.  I was convinced there would be a hole somewhere in my pastry and my oven would be the recipient of messy, gooey egginess.  However, he was right and I was wrong – it baked perfectly!

Courgette & Onion Quiche

Ingredients

1 Courgette

1 Onion

1 Egg (Free range from the market – no idea of size but probably medium!)

100ml Crème Fraiche

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Salt (to extract excess moisture from courgette)

8” Pastry Case

Method

Grate courgette into colander, sprinkle approximately one heaped teaspoon of cooking salt (not the decent sea salt) on top, stir and leave over a pot (to collect the water) for as long as you want or have time for (2-3 hours ideal). You can squeeze it occasionally to aid the process.  Some may like to use a tea-towel – but only if a washing machine is readily available.

Chop one small onion, add to the now-dry courgette, and mix thoroughly-ish.  Beat the egg and crème fraiche together and add to the onion and courgette.  Remember to season using decent sea salt.  (Chef’s tip: the salt used to extract the water from the courgette isn’t enough to flavour the dish).  Steve would also have added pepper, but someone around here doesn’t like it!  Pour mixture gently into pre-cooked pastry case and bake in the oven at 180 degrees(ish) until set.  If (like us) your oven doesn’t always brown the top of your food, grill for a couple of minutes to get a nice finish.

 

We have done a few little jobs on board – the Morse (engine control) was stiff in operation so Steve wanted to remove and lubricate the cables.  He sat in his engine room for 30/40 minutes pondering why the cables ran the way they did, he then decided to take a break and have a coffee.  I could tell that something was bothering him so asked what was wrong.  He said that he couldn’t understand why the cable went to a sliding mechanism and then to another cable straight to the gearbox – as it was the sliding mechanism causing the friction.  Immediately my brain, which surprisingly was attached to my mouth, said “is it because there used to be an internal steering position?”  It was amazing to see the light bulb go off above his head and it shone so bright that I’m sure it could have been seen from the international space station! “Aaah,” he said, “of course!”  See I do have my uses sometimes.  This meant that he could re-engineer the cabling and get rid of the redundant stuff!  It has even helped to make it easier to get into the engine room and perhaps I might even be able to use the throttle now!

I must have been on a roll that week as we then decided to try to sort out the GPS feed to the VHF radio.  Originally it was fed from the GPS plotter which we had had to get changed in Ramsgate, but after the upgrade this was no longer the case.  Positive Marine would have sorted it for us but unfortunately their schedule and ours meant it was not possible at the time.  This isn’t a big issue, just that we would have to manually input our co-ordinates into the radio if we had to use it in a distress situation.  Steve was convinced that there would be some way that he could wire things up and make it work.  We spent some time testing the cables and checking out diagrams in the technical data sections of the manuals.  His first attempt resulted in a blown fuse on the Smart Pilot!!!!  He tried a few more things but soon lost patience, gave up and moved on to a much easier job – fitting a French 240 volt socket in the galley (did I say easier? That’s another story in its own right! However, he did persevere and complete that one!!)

I decided to do some research online to see if I could figure out how to do it and after asking Google some weird and wonderful questions managed to find a website that took great pains to describe how NMEA works.  After some note-making (which wire on this connects to which wire on that etc) I thought I had it so once he’d finished with his socket I suggested he try my attempt.  He followed my verbal instruction of connection “a” to connection “b” etc – and guess what – we can now get the GPS on the radio, as long as the chart plotter at the chart table is turned on – RESULT!!  Not the best result, but a good result none the less!!  Steve now has decided that he does mechanical and electrical and I am “Miss Electronics” as he (in his own words) hasn’t got a clue with electronics.

Coming next time:  Bacon, leaving our baby, Steve’s brownie points, liveaboard facts.

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Author: shearmyste

Steve and Theresa (Tee), living the dream aboard Shearmyste, our 55ft aluminium ketch.

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