Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spiced Red Plum and Redcurrent Relish

By Jove I do believe I have a little sunburn upon my arms. Sanding on a deck that is high in the sky, a quaint breeze hiding the true heat of the sun and before you know it, milky white skin has turned an un-attractive pink. Oops.

But we are enjoying the sunshine and the longer evenings, smelling of mown lawns and the approaching season. We set sail in a few weeks so I am busy coming up with menu plans, provisioning lists and ideas for rough weather cooking.

I’ve discovered a little beauty. I made it for a picnic the other day and if I make a few more jars then simple cheese and ham lunches in big seas will be easy to cobble together with a nice little home made touch and the crew will think I’m very brave and dedicated to their stomachs, working hard down below in my dark and dingy galley.  

I got the idea for the plum, red-current and chilli chutney from the Ottolenghi, 'The Cook Book' (brilliant for inspiration when cooking for lots of people), as an accompaniment to some lamb I was roasting for friends. The original recipe in the book called for rhubarb, which I couldn’t find here in France this time of year but it was easy to substitute the rhubarb for redcurrents. And as the recipe rightfully says, you can experiment with whatever fruits are in season and pair nicely with what you’re serving it with. A burst of spice and tart, this goes exceptionally well with a good, French tangy goats cheese, some warm fresh homemade spelt bread and a glass of rosé like you wouldn’t believe.

Do excuse me, my mouth is watering.

Also, it lasts so well in the fridge and the flavours improve with age (like me). I will certainly be making a batch or two for my ships stores. But will continue to pray for calm seas! 

For a fabulous jar of easy-to-make chutney you will need;

6-8 red plums
1 red chilli, halved and seeded
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
100ml red wine vinegar
200g castor sugar
1 punnet of redcurrants removed from their stems
1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely sliced and cut into wee strips


  • Stone and cut the plums into quarters and put in a heavy based saucepan with the redcurrants, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, vinegar and sugar. Stir and bring to the boil. Then turn down to a gentle simmer and whilst keeping an eye on it, stirring occasionally and enjoying the aroma, cook gently for 25 to 30 minutes or until the fruit has a jam-like consistency (pleasingly gooey). It may need more or less depending on your stove.

  • When you have the desired consistency, remove the chilli and transfer to a jar and leave to cool. This will store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (mine is still great or better after a month in the fridge but do keep an eye on it). Serve as you wish with a roast joint or with a cheeky little French cheese the next day on the beach with some homemade bread. They’ll love you for it.

See; dead easy! And dead great!

Thanks for reading, back soon with loads of pre-delivery cooking recipes and menu ideas for long passages at sea. See you then.


On a boat on the hard.... not my favourite thing.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Mariquita Comes Out of the Water

The yearly anti-foul requires Mariquita to be lifted out of the water in a couple of giant slings. Before the big crossing to the UK it is good to do this and this year there will also be a shaft check. It's always quite an exciting but strange thing to see your place of work and home taken out of its natural environment like this. Plucked from its soft, secure bed of water into the air and placed on 'stands'. It never feels right to be on a boat out of the water and I can't say that I enjoy it hugely.

We remove the boom from the mast when we do this because the boom overhangs the back of the boat by about 5 meters which adds slightly more to the bill. So with pullies and strops and knots and a winch or two, approximately a tons worth of boom is lowered slowly and safely to the deck by us lot - the crew. 

Hauled out on a jaunty angle. I was a little nervous about the coffee machine at this point having remembered I hadn't strapped it in place...

She is now parked next to Moonbeam 3, the boat on the left in the scoffolding.

And now we live and work out of our container. The kettle and a fridge have been installed and lunch has become daily visits to the sandwich shop.

And the really exciting news... George and I are home to the UK tonight to move into our new house this weekend! If you think you are more excited than me about anything I dare you to challenge me to a 'who's-more-excited-off'.

But I will win.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Mariquita's New Season; Here We Go Again!

Isn’t it nice to feel wanted? Having avoided blogging for a whole month due to lets say - Life - I feel it's time to return to the keyboard and once again divulge recipes and classic boat adventures, spurred on by popular demand.

When I say popular demand I mean my Mum asked me when I was going to blog again so I thought I’d best get on it.

I was pondering on the metaphor of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis as Mariquita is freed from her winter state in preparation for the new season ahead. But then I thought that was all a bit flouncy for the roughty-toughty sailor that I am so instead I’ll just tell you how good she is starting to look as we take off her protective deck covers and cap-wrap. Her cap rail has been sanded and has a lovely new coat of varnish. George and Billy have been re-rigging and once again the mast base is maze of freshly varnished and leathered blocks awaiting halyards and jiggers. Our hands have suffered from sanding and sewing leather and now that the sun is more out then in we have had to dig out the sunscreen from the bilges for regular application.

New crew! We have had quite a crew change for the season ahead so a big ‘Hi’ please to Adam, Pippa, Catherina and Martha! Yesterday they all had the mildly frightening introduction to the Mariquita Crew Manual; an instruction guide to their racing positions which when read through on dry land can seem somewhat overwhelming. But even so we are all getting pretty excited about the up and coming season ahead and putting some sails up.

We are UK bound. We plan to set sail from here in Cogolin in the South of France, April 12th.  The journey will take us through the Gibraltar straights, into Atlantic waters up past Portugal, Spain, a hop (we hope) across the infamous Bay of Biscay and into English waters heading for home. In the next few weeks I shall be stocking up and provisioning, pre-cooking and praying for flat seas; the memories of cooking dinner whilst off the coast of Portugal in 40 knots of breeze, the fruit bowl (and me) flying across the galley whilst Mariquita slammed into huge waves, are still reasonably vivid.

Then whilst in the UK we have very busy schedule training and racing and getting involved with all sorts of exciting ‘events’. More of which I shall let on when I’ve been given the go ahead from the Captain, but suffice to say I’m sure you’ll want to stay tuned for ‘hot off the press’, inside info.

It’s all so exciting!

33 Degrees will be a year old in a few days. I was just looking over some of last years blogs and it is great to read and remember the adventures and food and experiences we had.

Here’s to more of the same.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back shortly with recipes, rigging and reflections on life aboard a beautiful classic sailing yacht preparing for the long sail home.