Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pots and Pans

As I made breakfast this morning (brekkie as my Auzzy, Brit and Kiwi friends would say) I took a moment to reflect on something my mom asked me a few months ago, and that was why didn't I use paper plates and utensils on the boat. That in turn reminded me of a conversation that Sven and I had on the same subject, it was recommended to him that he use paper plates, and he rejected the idea for the same reason I did. Disposable dishes pose one main problem when you are sailing - the disposal part. By law, you can't toss a paper anything overboard within 12 miles of shore, and even then, it takes about 3-6 months for paper to breakdown and be gone. Plastics take years - eons - to breakdown, to those styrofoam plates are even worse. It is against the law to toss anything plastic overboard, anywhere. Now that we have established that you can't toss them over board, you have a mountain of trash building aboard a vessel with limited space. So there are quite a few remedies, on Arden I use porcelain coated steel plates - they last forever if not chipped, clean up easily, and to soothe the tight wad that lives inside of me, they are cheap. Lots of yachties use the fancy lexan or heavy plastic plates and cups, but they are expensive, and after a few weeks of use, they get scratched and become just another ugly plate. The same applies to those plastic glasses and tumblers that look so good on the shelves at West Marine. I suppose the one saving grace to them is that they have a neat rubberized ring on the bottom of them that keeps them from sliding across the table, but you can glue vinyl to the bottom of the porcelain plate and have the same result. As for cups, I use the same stainless steel cups on board that I use for reenacting, again, they are cheap, and they last forever. For coffee I use a heavy ceramic mug, same as I would use at home. Yes, if you are not careful they can break, but as long as they are stored well, there are no worries.

For cooking I use stainless steel pots and pans, obviously those range greatly in price, but the key here is to get ones that are heavy and well constructed, not neccesarily those that cost the most. The light weight ones just don't cut it, on boats with propane stoves the heat of the burner will warp them, and will burn everything you try to cook in them. The steel used in the lighter ones usually is not of the same quality as the heavier ones, and yes folks, stainless will rust, just not as fast as regular steel, but those light weight pans will rust pretty damn quick. A quick bit of nautical trivia - the term pot hole comes from how pots and pans used to get stored aboard ship, each pot fit in a hole in a shelf in the galley, that way they don't shift all over and bang around, hence the term pot hole.

I also have 2 cast iron skillets, one is a normal 14 or 16 inch pan, big and heavy and great for all kinds of cooking. Nothing beats cast iron for even heating. I also have a flat skillet that I use for pancakes and french toast, it has almost no lip or rim to it, and there is absolutely no other pan I would use for making pancakes. I know alot of folks might say that the cast iron would rust, but if it is seasoned and oiled regularly, there is no real problem with rust.

The biggest rust problem that I have with the dishes is how I wash them. Because my fresh water supply is limited, most times I wash the dishes with seawater, and then give them a rinse with a limited amount of boiling hot fresh water. This way I know the dishes are clean, lots of soap and hot salt water, and then I am pretty sure they are sterilized with the quick dip in the boiling fresh water. I usually set the dishes out on the cockpit seats to dry, and then give them a quick wipe down to make sure there is no remaining moisture on them before they get stored.

As for trash, any scraps that Spook doesn't like, and all food and vegetable refuse goes over the side. If it doesn't get eaten by some ocean creature, it won't take but so long before it gets composted out there in the deep. All of the plastics and paper stuff goes in the rubish bin, and then carted ashore to the dumpster at the next port of call. As long as all the wrappers and cans are rinsed out, again using seawater, the trash doesn't get smelly, and can be stored aboard for a good while before it gets and odor and presents a storage problem.

One more insight on life aboard, now if I could just convince someone else to do the dishes....

No comments: