Perfect Onboard Meal  –  I grew up in the kitchen watching and helping my mother and absorbing her many bits of cooking advice. A wonderful cook and a gracious hostess, my mom has a rule that she never tries a recipe for the first time on guests. Instead, she has a variety of always-changing menus that she has perfected. I bend my mom’s rule slightly (perhaps I’ll try a new side dish or salad dressing) but generally follow it, not because I have friends who are judgmental or fussy—rather my friends are just content to drink wine while someone else cooks—but because it’s easier for me to relax when making a meal I know and like.

Some people, like my mom, are able to have a normal conversation while cooking a full meal with friends in the kitchen. Though I inherited her love of entertaining, I unfortunately did not fully inherit my mom’s multitasking ability in the kitchen. I can competently juggle numerous cooking projects, but put one chatty friend in my kitchen, and I can barely chop an onion. As a result, I do nearly all my cooking in advance so I can spend time catching up with friends during a relaxing meal.

Like many avid cooks, I have a variety of menus and recipes that are standbys for different occasions. One of my “go-to” onboard meals is jerk chicken, herbed smashed potatoes and island coleslaw. This menu fits my main guidelines for cooking on a boat in the Caribbean: I can readily find the ingredients, with many produced locally; cabbage, potatoes and carrots all keep well on a boat; no complicated techniques or equipment are involved; and I can make everything in advance.

For the chicken, I purchase a bottle of wet jerk rub, such as Jamaica’s Grace Brand (available at RiteWay). Numerous Jamaican friends have confided that commercially produced Jamaican jerk blends are so good that they rarely bother with homemade jerk seasoning. I tend to agree. Apply the jerk seasoning to assorted boned chicken pieces, with or without the skin. Cover and marinate overnight, then grill as desired.


During a provisioning stop in Grenada last year, the market ladies kept asking if I needed what I heard as “sive and time.” After some confusion, I finally realized that they were selling “chive and thyme,” (though their local chives are actually what people in the BVI would call green onions or scallions), a combination so popular in Grenada that the two ingredients are nearly always sold bundled together. One evening I threw leftover “chive and thyme” into my mashed potatoes for some colour, and that was the start of my new favourite potatoes.

Colourful, crisp coleslaw rounds out this versatile menu. I’ve given the coleslaw island flavours by dispensing with the more conventional mayonnaise dressing in favour of a tangy lime vinaigrette.

Herbed Smashed Potatoes

•  2 ½ lbs red potatoes or new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
•  1/2 C sour cream
•  1/3 C milk, or more
•  1 C chopped green onions (or substitute ½ c chopped fresh chives)
•  1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
•  4 Tbsp butter
•  1 tsp salt
•  ¼ tsp black pepper

Add potatoes to a big pot of water and boil until tender. Mash the potatoes to your liking. Add remaining ingredients to the potatoes and combine well. Serves six.


Island Coleslaw with Lime Vinaigrette

1 small head green cabbage, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, cut in matchsticks
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1/3 C chopped cilantro

•  1/3 C olive oil
•  3 Tbsp lime juice
•  1 ½ tsp lime zest
•  ½ tsp cumin
•  1 garlic clove, minced

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Pour vinaigrette over vegetable mixture. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serves six.