23 July 2013

Cooking with Cans

So far, the most interesting things I've been reading about sailing have to do with provisioning and cooking on boats. I especially love Lin Pardey's book "The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew" - she is one creative gal with cans. I don't really find detailed descriptions about how to fix engines, install marine toilets or figure out why the batteries have died very interesting. Instead, I've been fascinated by the idea of having to cook with just what you have stored on your boat for days or weeks or even months on end. Then imagine that you don't have refrigeration and all of your fresh produce has all been eaten up or turned rotten and all you have to live on is what comes in cans or other forms of long-term storage. 

You'll note I said I'm fascinated by the "idea" of this. I'm not sure I really want to experience it. But I'm sure the topic of making a long passage will come at some point and the ability to make something out of nothing may become an important skill in the future. So to that end, I've been experimenting with cooking with things that just come in cans, as well as the odd onion as they supposedly last a long time on a long passage.

The ability to cook from cans and other food storage items is also a good experiment in frugality as you may not always have the money in the cruising kitty to go out and buy fresh things. I've been doing some googling on frugal living and have found some fascinating ladies who are experts in living on very little money and relying on their food storage. Granted their lives are very different from mine (they have kids and home school them, know how to sew, have gardens, live in houses (not boats) and live in the desert), but I've picked up a lot of good tips from them. 

The first lady is Danielle whose blog is Blissful and Domestic. She and her family of four live on US$14,000 a year which seems amazing to me. The other lady is Brandy whose blog is the Prudent Homemaker. She has seven kids (seven!) and they lived off of their food storage (as in they didn't buy anything from the grocery store) for entire a year due to no income. That sounds like a lot of cans to me! Another interesting lady is Katy from the Non-Consumer Advocate. She is part of the "Compact" which is movement of people choosing not to buy anything - her motto is use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. She is from Portland, Oregon and if you know anything about Portland, you'll know that this is a very Portland thing to do.

So as part of my frugality experiments and getting ready to live on a boat, I've been trying recipes made solely from canned goods. My first one was Taco Soup and it tasted pretty good. And it was super easy too!

Taco Soup Recipe

2 tsp oil
1 medium chopped onion (leave it out if you don't have one, it should be fine)
1 packet taco spice mix
1 can corn (I used the kind with no added salt or sugar)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can kidney beans (rinse them first)
500 ml water

Heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add in the taco spice mix and sauté for 1 minute. Chuck in the corn, tomatoes, kidney beans and water. Stir. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. So easy.

If you're not living off of your cans, you could always jazz this up with jalapeños, some shredded cheese, spring onions etc. Basically, add anything you would put on a taco.

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