Pizza! or Bread Making Part Two.

Just a quick follow up on our previous post about bread making.

Charlotte and I often make pizza at home. We don’t like the cheese laden nature of commercial pizza and you don’t often find adventurous fare without shelling out extra coin. It’s quicker than you think to make your own pies and if you’re comparing on terms of quality, as well as price, it’s cheaper by a mile.

We use the same no-knead bread recipe I shared earlier. The difference comes with the shaping. Liberally flour your hands and work the dough gently. First with hands stretching the mass, then placing it onto the pan use your finger tips to spread the dough towards the edges of a pizza pan or large baking tray. If you have one of those fancy nonstick latex sheets they work great otherwise a sheet of parchment paper is a good idea. Hot ovens and a pizza tile are also helpful.

We made these pizzas while visiting our friends Dan and Melyssa a few weeks ago. With less cheese you can shell out for higher end ingredients like the Juliet Blue from Saltspring Island Cheeses. We also uses dried figs, which I recommend soaking in a little wine or beer for 30 minutes before you bake with them. They soften up beautifully that way.

 

Amazing! Charlotte married sweet peppers, dried figs, a spicy salami and Saltspring Island blue cheese, for an incredible flavour experience.

Amazing! Charlotte married sweet peppers, dried figs, and a Saltspring Island blue cheese, for an incredible flavour experience.

We have a stock of canned tomatoes from a late august canning session that we use for a sauce base but you can whip off something serviceable with a little tomato paste, a dash or balsamic and some fresh herbs without any trouble.

Close ups!

Crusty, caramelized, homemade goodness!

As usual we’re continuing to explore the great selection of local craft brews. Victoria has over a dozen local brewers! One I’ve been enjoying quite a bit recently is not quite so local but definitely worth the time. It’s a richly flavoured IPA from Muskoka Brewing. They dry hop this beer giving it great fruit tones with less bitterness most would associate with heavy IPAs. For those counting, the IBU rating is only 30.

This is a crushing combo for your next pizza night!

What's a great pizza without a great craft beer!?!

What’s a great pizza without a great craft beer!?!

 

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Cold clear mornings.

This week has been chilly in Victoria. Northern outflows have given us crisp sunny days with no wind. A major change over the windstorms earlier this month.

Today I crawled on deck after Peanut to find frost on the dock and kitty rolling in the sun.

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Baking at home so maybe one day we can afford one…

So we like to eat, and we kind of like cooking. We are also becoming increasingly frugal.

We’ve been hit by the hard reality this summer that in this day and age it’s %&*@in’ expensive to buy a house. Don’t get me wrong, I grasp the irony of this statement considering we just bought a sailboat, but the reality is that the second hand sailboat market is much easier to get into that the second hand home market.

Skipping happily passed my terror of a crushing 25 year mortgage, we’re saving our pennies by cooking more at home. In this case in our tiny galley. Thankfully neither Charlotte or I have become gluten intolerant. We’ve been so lucky not to get hit by this terrible pandemic. Thus one of the things we tackle quite regularly is home baked bread.

First off, it’s ridiculous how much a loaf of artisanal bread costs. I mean, granted, the house thing is worse but seriously there better be more than a few bits of dried fruit in there if you’re going to charge north of $7!?!

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Everything is blurry when you’re constantly moving…

When you consider how much it costs to produce this at home you’ll stop buying bread. Especially if you compare it to the pre-sliced sugar slabs that pass for ‘multigrain’ sandwich breads these days. Have you looked at the ingredients list on that crap?

Char and I do choose to make time for this bread making thing and it’s something we appreciate more and more. Once you get the hang of things it really doesn’t take that long, and with a little practise you get to eat something that is actually pretty healthy. I think the whole gluten ‘intolerance’ thing has more to do with preservatives and sugar and it does with grain. but that’s my ‘opinion’…

A technique we’ve really taken to lately is the no-knead-bread style of yeast leavened breads. It involves making a really wet dough, not kneading it at all just mixing it together with a spoon, and leaving it for at least 6 hours (1 minute of mixing if you’re a little slow). After the long rest, you pour out the fermented mixture onto a well floured board or tray, shape the dough into a loaf and then you stick it into the oven (another 2 minutes). You can mix other things in there like sautéed pablano peppers and onions with pumpkin seeds and flat leaf parsley (like the loaves pictured), but you can also not do that and basically just bake it. A sprinkling of salt might be nice though.

I call this kneadless bread, and we made a few loaves this week to take to a friends potluck. I’m posting this because our kitchen is smaller than most people’s linen closets, and our oven has no temperature gauge. So what’s your excuse?

Our basic recipe comes from a great book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. 

3.3 Cups Warm Water

1 tbsp Sea Salt

1.5 tbsp Granulated Yeast

5.5 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

(Or 6.5 Cups of AP Flour)

See, no extra stuff in there to make you intolerant.

All in, these two loaves cost us about $2.38. That includes organic flour (bought bulk), pumpkin seeds, a fancy pepper, the left over parsley bits from another meal, and some olive oil. You could drop that price by 75 cents if you skip the fancy stuff.

If you think about the time commitment it’s pretty small too. Lets be generous and say 10 minutes to get all the ingredients together, mix things, set up the stove and the pans and shape the loaves etc. I did have to sit on the boat for 40 minutes while the loaves baked, but who doesn’t like to smell of fresh bread in the oven while you watch youtube videos…

The mixed batter after seven hours or so of being left alone.

The mixed batter after seven hours or so of being left alone.

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The work space

One nicely shaped loaf almost ready for the oven

One nicely shaped loaf almost ready for the oven

The fruits of our labour; pumpkin seed and green pepper pesto!

The fruits of our labour; pumpkin seed and green pepper pesto!

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3500sq/f to 35 linear…

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Our Beautiful Castilleja!

Life aboard our new boat is a big change from house sitting a massive cabin in the woods.

It’s been nearly two weeks at sea. I guess more accurately it’s been just over two weeks at the dock here in Victoria* but we were out for a sail last Sunday, and we had a lovely (if completely windless) journey from Squamish to the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. We saw a humpback whale and many pods of porpoise and pacific white-sided dolphins, before finding our way to our new slip here in this lively harbour.

It’s been another shift in lifestyle for us. Less than two years ago we were living on the opposite side of the planet in the land locked country of Malawi. Then it was months of travel on trains and planes and bicycles before a return home, a wedding, a winter in Nelson, flying around in helicopters to go skiing, and most recently a summer in Whistler house-sitting for Charlotte’s parents. Their lovely and rather large home was a great place to spread out and we had plenty of time to climb mountains and roll down them at great speed, and paddle passed them and sleep under them looking at the stars. For better or worse those days of frivolously piling things anywhere we please is now over and we’re being much thriftier with our possessions and even our packing.

The travelling cars are, in a modified sense, travelling once again; this time aboard our 35.64-foot long Cuthbertson & Cassian sailboat, Castilleja. While we are slightly more rooted to the harbor of Victoria than in some of our previous projects, we are living out a new adventure together. We have plans of course to sail the seven seas but for now Charlotte has a PhD to tackle and I need to find a job. Well one beyond the growing list of boat projects at least.

Castilleja

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Our new home purchased only a few months ago is proving to be everything we hoped. With a frugal approach to life’s necessities we’ve managed to fit all the things we need, ourselves and peanut into our beautiful little boat. Castilleja is the latin name for the alpine flower known as the Common Paintbrush. It’s full name is Castilleja Miniata. Guess what we’re calling the dingy…

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Castilleja Miniata in her element, up the Brandywine Meadows drainage.

When we bought her in June we quickly made a list of all the things we wanted to fix or upgrade, and the list looked daunting. We’ve quickly realized that the list was then quite short, the items that at first seemed a priority have slipped considerably, and despite a few concerted weekends attempting shorten it, it only seems to be growing. That’s okay though. We knew there would be work, and it’s still less work than a big house.

Castilleja, like many boats of her generation is overbuilt. Her fiberglass hull is more than an inch thick in places and the rigging overdesigned by today’s standards. For us that means she should be sea worthy for years to come. Inside she’s compactly but efficiently laid out. We have a comfortable ‘V’ birth up forward, which leaves enough room for Charlotte and I to stretch out with a view of the stars through the foredeck hatch. We have a small ‘head’, (bathroom, for you landlubbers) with no shower. The marina where we stay has facilities for that thankfully. The rest of the interior comprises the salon, with a table for seven in a squish, a nav station/office and a galley. Every thing is close to everything else. There is no room for two in the galley, and generally we have to dance around one another whenever we’re both on the boat. That said even when the ‘house’ is a total disaster from my latest wiring, or caulking project it never takes more than 15 minutes to tidy up completely. On top of all that, there are seven bunks for those odd nights when the dinner quests just won’t leave.

Not all of these lovely people stayed for the night.

Not all of these lovely people stayed for the night, but they brought enough booze so we wouldn’t have minded if they did.

In the future we’ll share more about the learning process of engine maintenance, fiberglass and electrical projects, varnishing and caulking, and the ever evolving process of finding the perfect way to do anything on a boat only to learn that categorically that way was completely wrong and you should be flogged for even considering such a thing. But really it’s quite fun.

For now, when the wind picks up at night, I draw short straw. With a nudge, I slip on my jacket and re-secure a line slapping the mast. It’s a kindness not just for Charlotte and myself since the sound of nylon concussing a 50-foot tall aluminum pole has a certain resonance that carries quite well into our neighbours ears. As in any small community you will be judged for your transgressions. Charlotte is usually the one to get up in the night to admonish Peanut (our cat), for doing normal cat things at unreasonable human hours, and she saved something from blowing into the sea the other night as well.

Seamen Peanut sleeping on duty

Peanut hard at work navigating.

Victoria

So far we’ve been casually getting to know Victoria. Our few family connections here have had us round for dinner or breakfast and we’ve been exploring mostly by bicycle. It’s been a long time since either of us was living in a city with bike lanes but its great to be back on my colourful commuter and charlotte has been happy to have a moderate 8km to cover from the boat to school. She quickly bought some nice new completely impervious to water panniers to make the ride survivable.

Peanut in full travel mode. She not so secretly hates us for this.

Peanut in full travel mode. She not so secretly hates us for this.

Some good friends gave us a gift certificate to a rather hipster little café called The Pink Bicycle. The PB has great house made burgers and a fantastic craft beer list but it’s fortunate that I ride a fixed gear and have a beard otherwise we would not have been served.

One of our samples at the Pink Bicycle

We’ve also figured out where the marine chandlery and good grocers are, as well as the laundry mat, and a few good running trails in this quite urban setting. Nothing, so far, appears to be more than a short ride or walk away. And it hasn’t rained too hard for too long yet.

Since our last post we’ve had many adventures and little time for sharing them in this medium. We’ve also been closer to home and with that felling more connected to our community in the sea to sky corridor. Though, truth be told, many were missed in the few months we were back on the coast. Hence the revival of the travellingcarrs posts. So look to us often for entertaining recounts of our seafaring blunders.

Till next we share a common port, fair winds my friends.

*For those of you who didn’t know we’ve moved again. We are now living in the provincial capital.

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Castilleja under sail.

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Just before we dropped anchor in a small cove on Prevost Island.

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Northern Gateway & boaters article in Pacific Yachting

This was published in Pacific Yachting last month. Pertinent to the politics of the day here in Canada and the juxtaposition with adventure. Check it out!

Tankers on the Central Coast

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A return to the sea

Teaser:

guess what this is!

guess what this is!

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Oh winter! How you prematurely grey my beard…

What an amazing winter! but we’ve been remiss with our posting I’m afraid. We’ve been travelling in smaller circles over the last few months which ironically has taken up more time than when we were covering much larger distances. Perhaps the term laps is a better description of our travels these days. Lapping rocky cliffs in the fall before the cold rolled in and then skiing snowy slopes, skinning along ridge lines and sweeping down wintery roads to more local adventures here in the Kootenays.

It might be cold enough for the windows to freeze but that's a beautiful silver lining.

It might be cold enough for the windows to freeze but that’s a beautiful silver lining.

There are few rewards quite as lovely as ski touring into natural hotsprings!

There are few rewards quite as lovely as ski touring into natural hot-springs!

The Koots is actually an description for an area that lays like a blanket over portions of five distinct, greater and lesser mountain ranges, and brings together a wonderful cast of mountain folks of all varieties. We’ve certainly found a place amongst the adventurous, the bold and the bearded of western Canada and it’s been a wonderful immersion in all that is Canadian winter.

the view from our cabin on the Bonnington Traverse

the view from our cabin on the Bonnington Traverse

The view from Cabin #2 on the Traverse

The view from Cabin #2 on the Traverse

That's just beautiful...

That’s just beautiful…

We came to Nelson back in september because Charlotte landed a good job looking at the fish populations in the Columbia river basin. Since Charlotte became quickly frustrated with my pestering her for attention I had to go find some work of my own. International Development projects are a little scarce in these parts so I widened my search and took a job as a chef for a local heliskiing outfit perched in the southern Selkirk range. After a few weeks lying to Charlotte about how heliskiing wasn’t really that fun I finally broke down and got her some work at the lodge so she could come skiing too.

Our friend Lee guiding the group up at the lodge.

Our friend Lee guiding the group up at the lodge.

Charlotte tackles the ice wall. She complained about the cold but in her defence it was -30C!?!

Charlotte tackles the ice wall. She complained about the cold but in her defence it was -30C!?!

Thus our wintery months have been divided between our lovely lakeside house in Nelson and a pretty plush mountain lodge nestled high in the woods. When we weren’t grabbing up the extra seats in the heli to rip through waist deep Kootenay cold smoke, we managed to get a few days of lift access at the WhiteWater resort, Nelson’s local hill. On top of all that we did a few tours in the seemingly endless backcountry, and a great hut based traverse of the Bonnington range. Like I said before a truly amazing winter for a couple of folks freshly back from the tropics. I think I’m finally getting used to wearing all these extra layers but I’ll be honest my ski boots are not as comfortable as my flipflops…

Happy cold face

Happy cold face

less happy cold face. Well, this is more tired cold face.

Less happy cold face. Well, this is more of a tired and cold face. Where’s the @#$%! cabin!?!

Regardless, the seasons are beginning to change. We still have some winter left (it’s snowing quite heavily as I write this) but plans for the next adventure are certainly on our minds. We are entertaining the idea of a spring traverse somewhere in the coast range as one last wintery hurrah but avalanche risk has been very high this year so we may stick to safer options. We’ll see.

Charlotte's Lovely rosemary and pumpkin seed loaf.

Charlotte’s Lovely rosemary and pumpkin seed loaf. We’ve been eating well this winter.

In the mean time here are a few images from our winter adventures. In another month we’ll be back living on the coast and on to another round of work and life projects. Charlotte found a new job in Whistler, and we’re keen on being closer to our coastal friends and family. There’s a PhD in the future and big adventures for sure. For now we’re headed to the hill. More news to follow. Love from thetravellingcarrs…

Hey Charlotte, I'm really cold. Hows about we both get into your snow pants?

Hey Charlotte, I’m really cold. Hows about we both get into your snow pants?

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