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BOOK REVIEW Gourmet Underway Reviewed by Steve Morrell Almost every week I get a book mailed to me to review. I’ve got quite a library going, but many of them are remotely related to the SOUTHWINDS reader (like a great glossy field guide to freshwater fish). I don’t really do book reviews, although a few non-fiction adventures I’ve read thoroughly as they were interesting. What I try to do is give the SOUTHWINDS reader an idea of what the book is like since the reader doesn’t have it in his hands to peruse— to see if it is interesting enough to buy. I try to fill that role. When Gourmet Underway arrived in the mail, it numbered as only the second onboard cookbook I’ve received in five years, so I checked it out. I am not much of cook—and definitely no gourmet cook—but I can cook the basics real well, and I eat real healthy, so that’s what I look for. One thing I learned a long time ago—in the ’60s when I, and all my friends, were pursuing simple living and avoiding processed foods—was that pressure cookers preserve the nutrients. Plus—they cook stuff fast. Consequently, I started cooking with a pressure cooker when I was very young. When I first flipped through Gourmet Underway, I saw the word pressure cooker throughout the book. Plus it had drink mixes in there. You know—cocktails. That piqued my interest so I read on. Author Robbie Johnson gets right to the point in the introduction with these words: “With only three utensils, all of the recipes in this cookbook can be prepared in little more than 30 minutes, many in less than 15 minutes, some in only 5 minutes.” He goes on to say that he uses a wok, a steel skillet and a pressure cooker, stating that emphasis is on cooking methods that “conserve energy, enhance nutrition and produce palate-pleasing meals.” Any cookbook that can do all that on board a sailboat has got to have something valuable to teach. After reading Robbie’s sailing credentials—he has sailed and cooked on just about every size boat—you are convinced that he could know what he is talking about. As I read on, I wondered if he shouldn’t have named the book the Joy of Cooking Aboard, as this book covers lots of

ground and many recipes—kind of like the real Joy of Cooking does. He discusses cooking ware, ingredients, storage, pressure cooking, skillet cooking, wok cooking, grilling, etc. Then there’s a discussion of pasta, poultry, grains, meat, seafood, etc., etc., etc. His recipes include everything from dips to soups to rice to stir fry to even a pot of tea. And he does it all from the boater’s point of view; simple, small galley, limited resources, need for long-term storage, low budget, minimal pot and pan cleaning, fast prep, etc. This book is obviously from years of experience cooking aboard. Of course, I checked out his recipes on pressure cooking, one of the few methods I am pretty experienced at. I found his great recipe on baking bread in a pressure cooker, something I got good at doing while cruising on my boat 20 years ago. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing a real treat: eating fresh bread while anchored in the middle of nowhere. This is an impressive cookbook—and for one who is not a gourmet cook—me—I can see it being useful on land. If it’s easy to cook and eat well on board—and this book shows the way for that—it will be real easy on land. I like that. Gourmet Underway 536 pages By Robbie Johnson Downwind Press Available at tahitirover@gmail.com

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November 2007

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