A Spicy Snack

This easily made "cruising cheese" is great for night-watch nibbling or a happy hour hors d’oeuvre

Spicy "Cruising Cheese”

Our first night at sea was a cold one. Southerly winds blowing straight from Antarctica were helping us on our way north from our home port of Opua, New Zealand towards Fiji. We were 120 miles offshore. There was no moon that night but the starlight was brilliant; it was also the night that Mars was closest to Earth. The red planet did seem to be brighter and closer than normal. How I love those starry, starry nights!

Then the problems started. First, the new wind instruments stopped working. Then we decided to start the generator, our pride and joy, also recently installed. I’d been looking forward to a cruising life of luxury, as a generator meant I’d be able to cool down the fridge whenever I liked instead of once a day for one hour. The generator would also run the new and highly efficient water maker. But alas, when Simon pressed the start button, the generator coughed and wheezed like an asthmatic old man. I was tempted to pass it my inhaler. After a few more coughs, it burst into life. Was there ever such a sweet sound? Seconds later, it lapsed into a prolonged stutter and stopped with a choked cough. This happened two more times. With no generator, we couldn’t use the water maker — so now, it was decision time. We decided to jibe and turn towards home.

We’d been working all winter on our boat and were looking forward to a couple of months of enjoying ourselves and relaxing in the tropics before returning to New Zealand for the summer. We were depressed, fed up, and to add insult to injury now we were going to have to bash to windward for a day and a half. We’d been enjoying a beautiful downwind sail in 15 to 18 knots, but turning into it was another matter.

It was fairly bumpy and I didn’t really feel like cooking up a storm, so I resorted to a filling snack we both love to nibble on. Before leaving Opua I’d made plenty of yogurt, which I then turned into what I call “cruising cheese.” This is one of our favorites — good at any time of day when the munchies set it, and much appreciated at cruisers’ potlucks and happy hours.

16 ounces plain yogurt
1 large square of muslin or cheesecloth
Combination of fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, mint, chives), finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

OR

16 ounces plain yogurt
1 large square of muslin or cheesecloth
Combination of :
Green onions, finely chopped
Dried herbs, to taste
Garlic, finely chopped, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the muslin or cheesecloth into a colander with the edges hanging over the edge. Turn the yogurt into the square of cloth. Take up the corners of the cloth, gather them together, and secure with a piece of string. Suspend this over the sink or a bucket or wherever it can drip and not make a mess (I use an old gallon water container with the top cut off and two holes pierced in the sides so it’s easy to suspend the bag with the string). Let drain overnight. In the morning you’ll find that all they whey has run out and you are left with a solid mass resembling soft cream cheese. Mix your herbs and seasonings into this and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Serve with crackers or bread. This keeps quite well in the fridge.