Operation No Compromise
Crew Blog

February 1, 2011

Birthdays, Baking, and Barbershops aboard the Bob Barker

Merilee Nyland
Chief Cook, the Bob Barker

Merilee NylandAs the days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, daily life aboard the Bob Barker continues. We may be in the middle of the Southern Ocean on the frontlines of one of the most controversial and long-standing conservation efforts, but we still have birthdays to celebrate, cakes to bake, and growing hair to cut. My shipmate, and a good friend of mine from my life in Washington State, told me (as I cut his hair) that traditionally the ship’s cook is also the ship’s barber. And so it goes…six weeks at sea is no excuse for straggly hair, so the clippers and scissors have come out for crew haircuts. Like any task aboard a pitching and rolling ship, cutting hair turns into a game of balance, patience, and perfect timing---as you snip bangs between swells while steadying yourself with every muscle engaged.

Cooking and baking are no different where the high seas turn the simplest tasks into mammoth challenges. Despite these sea conditions, every birthday deserves a cake. Just this week we had three birthdays, meaning three cakes: a chocolate chip cookie cake with vanilla butter cream, a black forest cake with strawberries and chocolate ganache, and a blueberry cake with lemon cream cheese frosting…of course all are vegan delights.

I am commonly asked how to bake without eggs, milk, and butter, “What on earth do you use?” There are many simple tricks such as substituting soy or rice milk for cow’s milk, margarine or oil or applesauce for butter, and egg replacer, flax seed, or banana for eggs.  There are also many recipes that don’t have eggs or dairy to begin with or just simply don’t need animal products. I suggest experimenting and having fun with vegan baking—remembering that you can taste the raw batters without fear, since there is no risk of salmonella! But to start, try following a few vegan recipes.  Many can be found online and there are many good vegan cookbooks on the market. Sinfully Delicious and The Joy of Vegan Baking are two books dedicated solely to vegan treats.

If you like chocolate, try this easy cookie that our crew loves and that our galley sent over to the crew of the Steve Irwin (the favor was returned with a chocolate cake from the Steve Irwin galley):

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup soy or rice milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F/160C. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a small bowl mix oil, milk, vanilla, and sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Roll dough into1 tablespoon balls, place on baking sheet 1 inch apart, and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes.


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