My husband, Bruce, and I have been boating people seemingly since Day One. Actually, Bruce started long before I did; his family had a summer house on Diamond Lake in Washington State. Bruce grew up on the water, and I grew to love it, too; although, I never did get up on skis or learn to swim very well. Being a redhead, I was, and still am, best at sun-burning.
Bruce and I bought our first boat soon after we married. At that time, the extent of our boating eats consisted of cold sandwiches and chips. The sandwiches were mostly peanut butter and jam as those didn't need to be kept cool. The boat was too small to have a very big ice chest, and we needed the room in the cooler for drinks--usually colas as we were not old enough to buy liquor, having been married quite young. We would pull into a deserted cove--usually one with a "No Trespassing" sign nailed to a tree on the shoreline, spread out our blanket on the beach, make our sandwiches, eat them, and, then, be back on the water in no time (hopefully before being kicked off). Oh, those were the days!
When our children came along, we needed a bigger boat, as well as one we could use for skiing; Bruce and our kids, our friends and their kids, loved to ski; mainly, I babysat on the shore.
About that time, too, those little hibachis and cheap little BBQ's became popular; perfect to take to the lake to use at the launch areas, or on the beaches. With one of those, we were able to graduate from peanut-butter-and-jam sandwiches to burgers and hot dogs. With that change, we thought we had really moved up the food chain!
Then, Bruce took a job that required him to be on-call evenings and weekends; that put our boating on-hold. Eventually, albeit reluctantly, we sold our boat; we installed a swimming pool at our house, instead. Our family, friends, and our children's friends, came to our house instead of to the lake. At that time, I really got into barbecuing, if just because I didn't want to be in the house, cooking, while everyone else was out at the pool having fun. Besides, being the worry-wart that I was, I had to be at poolside to kept track of everyone and make sure they were obeying all the rules; I had lots of rules!
Poolside, I would put whatever we were eating on "cruise control"; meaning, I mainly used the BBQ rotisserie, because it didn't need much watching. To make everything even easier, I bought each and every rotisserie gadget and basket I could find.
I learned to plan ahead to make dinners simpler, faster, and easier. I learned a lot of shortcuts, right there at the house, which, later on, proved invaluable for our return to boating and our final upgrade to some truly Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking.
Therefore, you'll find the recipes in this book not only provide you with fine dining on your boat, but, if you so desire, at pool-side, in your backyard, or while picnicking, camping, or fishing.
NOTE: No matter how much planning and preparing is done ahead of time, whoever does the grilling will invariably get all the applause for the fabulous food; in our case that someone is usually Bruce who just always smiles and says, "Thank you!" The bugger!
As I've already hinted, my husband and I, once the children were grown and out of the house, spent less time around the pool and, again, started thinking of our return to boating. By then, we'd pretty much excluded skiing from our recreational repertoire, and we were more interested in somewhere close to spend some getaway leisurely time--whether with friends, or just by our lonesome--and eat.
There are a lot of lakes in our area, but Coeur d'Alene Lake, in northern Idaho, is the closest large one that allows us docking facilities for convenient midweek access for sunset dinners, cruising, or just lazily summer drifting while eating plump and juicy Washington State strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue made with Xocai(R) (The Healthy Chocolate), and/or while relaxing with a chilled glass of Washington State Latah Creek Muscat Cannelli. That's where you'll most likely find us, too, every weekend and evenings during the April to October Pacific Northwest boating season.
As someone who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, a locale known for its preponderance of lakes and rivers...someone who's from an extended family that took its fishing damned seriously...and someone who has had the great pleasure, over the years, of having been on board ocean-going yachts and ships that boast extensive galleys and, even, extensive kitchen staffs...I've had a very long and very enjoyable exposure to the pleasures inherent in boating and the food available on board.
Early on in my life, fine dining on the water wasn't of first consideration--if, in fact, of any consideration at all--in that food consumption consisted mainly of chowing-down on whatever was conveniently packed (in paper-bag, lunchbox, or cooler) for an excursion. While this could mean any number of selections from the available menu of cold-cuts, cold fried chicken, cheese, potato salad, milk, even an apple, the closest any of this ever genuinely came to gourmet dining was on our return to the evening's campfire, or to the convenient cabin's kitchen, where the fresh catch of the day was converted into mouth-watering fried or grilled fish for much-enjoyed end-of-day feasting.
My university days saw me chumming with a crowd of young recreational boaters that could boast several watercraft, none larger than thirty feet, all with skippers and "crews" who had discovered pre-packaged meals were no longer nearly as "in" and/or as fashionable as the newly discovered wonders of freshly barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers, supplemented by crisp chips and ice-cold beer, all of which fit to a tee all of our college-boys' admittedly indiscernible palates.
Eventually, when I became more "a man of the world," I graduated to cruises on the high seas aboard immense ocean liners whose humongous galleys were able to set before me a whole array of genuinely delicious foods stuff that could, and did, rival anything served up by the best restaurants in the world.
Then, of course, there were my leisurely spent halcyon days on several yachts whose owners had their captains and crews ply the waters of the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and South Seas, and daily harvest fresh seafood from the surrounding waters, to be set upon by a cook, and sometimes attending staff, in galleys that, while they didn't rival those of any cruise-line steamship, still provided some truly memorable eating experiences.
As a result, I early came to believe that the caliber of my dining on water depended entirely upon the size of the craft in which I "sailed." A rowboat would likely still see me brown-bagging it; something smaller than thirty-feet would likely see me dining on weenies and hamburgers; larger than thirty-feet would likely see me enjoying the benefits of a fully-equipped galley and someone likely "on staff" capable of preparing some really fine meals; luxury liners, while no longer as capable of providing fine dining as they once did, still remained the closest to a restaurant experience.
This misconception, of course, changed, but only when I was able to reunite, after a long absence, with my cousin, Bonnie, and with her husband Bruce, who, with their long history as boat owners, had somehow managed, on their thirty-foot boat, to jettison the old stereotype of nothing available on-board but hot dogs and hamburgers. Dining aboard the Clark's boat, in fact, includes a whole repertoire of fine-dining gourmet cooking that can not only be as easily managed and advantaged on a rowboat but on the deck of the grandest yacht if and when a viable option is wanted that doesn't necessitate dirtying every pot and pan in a ship's extensive galley.
The proof of my cousin and her husband's success in the onboard cooking miracles they've achieved is no better illustrated than by the number of times I have seen boats of all sizes, on Lake Coeur d'Alene, gravitate from all around, like iron filings to a magnet, to have the people on board hail the Clarks and inquire as to what "smells so damned delicious," often times sticking around long enough to be provided with samples and, in return, provide rave reviews.
As a direct result of my having seen, first hand, what is achievable by my cousin, by way of gourmet dining, on a small craft, or on large, with a minimum amount of equipment, time, and effort, I have been on an joint quest with the Clarks to find even more new and exciting recipes to add to those already devised by Bonnie and her husband. It being our sole purpose, and, now, that of our publisher, Wildside/Borgo Press, to clue in small boat owners to the still little-known fact that they needn't eat only hot dogs and hamburgers, and to let the larger boat owners know that it's not always necessary for fine dining to go any farther than a small propane grill affixed to their yacht's outside railing.
And, of course, for those of you who don't own a boat, large or small, probably never will, or don't really ever want to, there's nothing here that you can't whip up just as easily on solid ground, whether or not at a backyard barbecue, or on a picnic, or just while camping out.
Wherever, whenever...smooth sailing...and bon appetit!