the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

cooking with gas

I began wondering whether I was on the verge of running out of propane since I'd been cooking for a little over three months on the same tank. A couple of guys lifted the tank and said it felt close to empty so I dragged it over to the local hardware store to refill. It's a little smaller than your standard tank for a gas grill. The tare weight is 13.2 pounds and filled to 80% capacity it takes 11 pounds of propane. I was surprised to see I still had 5 pounds of propane in the tank. I may get six months out of it before it's empty. But the tank is old and lacks an overfill preventer, so the hardware store won't refill it for me again.

I somewhat covet a couple of aluminum tanks, though they are pricey at about $150 each for 6 pound tanks. Having two light tanks is nice so that one can be taken ashore for filling while the other is still hooked up. However, I think I am going to end up getting one larger fiberglass tank. The fiberglass will never rust and will be even more lightweight--a significant benefit for me being a girl and regularly nursing the torn rotator cuff that has plagued me for a few years now.

All winter I've had a large blue tarp covering half the cockpit because the propane line is running out of the port lazarette to the tank sitting in the cockpit. I put a coozie around the propane line so the lazarette would not smash the line or chafe against it. The tarp keeps rain and snow out of the lazarette, which leads directly to the engine room, and helped to keep more heat in the engine room this winter. Now that spring is here, I called my boat handyman to schedule a time for him to help me mount the propane off the stern rail. With a little luck, by the end of the weekend that project will be completed.

Even with a slightly jury-rigged propane set-up, I've been cooking up great meals aboard. I recently had friends over for my chicken and Italian sausage served with parmesan and white wine risotto and baby spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic with a touch of kosher salt. Delish! I may have to attribute the blurriness of that photograph to the cook having had a few bottles of Spaten while creating the meal. The rest of the chicken was cooked in lime juice and white wine with garlic, adobo seasoning, onions, orange peppers, and edamame; the lime juice gave it a lot of zip!

I haven't been experimenting with the oven as much as I should but am planning on making a nice whiskey-infused pound cake soon. I managed a large casserole of mac and cheese, (with a blend of sharp and extra sharp cheeses), and have some potatoes in need of roasting. Getting the oven lighted can be a bit of a challenge poking around the bottom of the oven with a long lighter and propane flowing. I was pleased to see that the thermometer in the oven and the temperature on the dial actually matched up. My lack of success thus far with pizza and biscuits appears to primarily rest with having used baking sheets which take up the entire footprint of the oven and, thus, inhibit air circulation. With only 11" x 17" to work with, it's time to find some baking sheets 10" x 16" or smaller so I can have my garlic cheddar biscuits before a long run and turn out some gourmet mini-pizzas for friends.