shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Penne with Butternut Squash

September 24, 2012

Now that we have an alcohol stove, we have become compulsive pressure cooker users. Alcohol is a bit more expensive to burn than we were used to with propane on Eurisko and the stove top doesn't get quite as hot, so we have tried to find dishes that can be cooked entirely in the pressure cooker.

Butternut squash

What we have discovered is that you can cook an amazing variety of food in the pressure cooker. We've cooked beans in it for years, and with his recent discovery with rice in a separate container in the pressure cooker all our rice is now cooked with that method. But what we didn't know until we were forced to research it was that you can bake in the pressure cooker. Banana bread and lemon poppy bread are a few of our successes.

We found a book in the lending library called Pressure Perfect. In it we found recipes for pressure cooking entire meals that we never would have imagined. One of the recipes has become our favorite, but of course, Dave has altered it. He never does anything the same way twice, and he's not a fan of following recipes, so it's different every time he cooks it.

For the first incarnation he tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible, which, given what we had on the boat and his personal preferences, is hardly recognizable as the original recipe.

The ingredients

1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded (or calabaza, if you're in the Caribbean)
1 T olive oil (or butter)
1 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper
1 1/2 C chicken broth
2 1/2 C penne (or any short pasta)
1 C ricotta
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/4 C grated parmesan plus more for at the table
What was left of a bag of broccoli slaw from the previous night's dinner (The original recipe calls for 1 C roasted nuts. We didn't have those, but we had the slaw, so it was our crunch.)

Place the larger chunks on top

Cut half the squash in 1/4-inch chunks and the other half in 2-inch pieces. The smaller chunks will cook down to become "sauce" while the larger ones will still be identifiable.

In your pressure cooker, heat the oil. Add onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, broth and small squash pieces. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Set the large squash pieces on top.

Close the pressure cooker. Bring to pressure and cook 5 minutes. Turn off heat and quick release the pressure. We found that by strategically pouring the water, we can release the pressure with less than 2 cups of water. This is less water than we would use to cook the pasta conventionally.

One incarnation

Add the ricotta, parsley and parmesan. Still gently. At this point we put in our "crunch" and replace the lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve with parmesan and bread.

The second time we cooked this we realized that the remaining ricotta had gone bad (we still don't have refrigeration) so we used cottage cheese instead. It's similar enough in this recipe that it doesn't much matter, but we like cottage cheese and will eat what is left after this recipe for snack or breakfast before it goes bad.

This was our first meal on our new table

We didn't have any broccoli slaw the second time, either, so we cut up broccoli and carrots into small pieces that would mostly cook while the dish sat. Remember, their purpose is crunch, so don't overcook them.

This dish is always different but always delicious! I've been told I can't request it for a while because the chef is getting burned out on it. Hope it becomes a favorite for you, too. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

We've had several readers ask us about how or if we insure when we are in the Caribbean. If that many inquiring minds want to know, then I guess MONDAY it's time we share our insurance experiences.

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