Monday, March 31, 2008

Pour no more

Pour no more
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
This old corroded tea kettle has sat on a rusted cast iron wood stove in the yard of El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California for years. Though I've taken many photographs of water reservoir, this is one of the first that satisfies my inner artist. I can imagine many cups of beautifully brewed tea and coffee were poured from this spout.

The kettle, stove and many other objects (some in good condition, many others not and all of it old!) go on sale at the museum this spring. Watch the county purchasing website for the invitation to bid. It should be posted within the month.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Creamy Artichoke Dip

You might say that I'm a snackaholic. I often use snacks, like chips and dip, to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. This recipe was printed in Sunset Magazine in March 2007. I've since added it to my snack collection.


I use a stand mixer to mix the dip because I don't own a food processor. For a creamier dip, whirl all ingredients in a food processor bowl until smooth and creamy.

8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, minced

Place all ingredients a mixer bowl. Mix with paddle attachment at medium speed until smooth and chill. Makes 1-1/2 cups. Serve with crackers, crostini, fresh vegetables or dip chips.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cowboy Hibachi

I've been impressed with the Pacific Coast Railroad Company, located on the privately owned Rancho Santa Margarita, since I learned of the operation two years ago. The railroad, like the ranch, is the private domain of entrepreneur Rob Rossi.

So, when the "when the newer bovine residents of Rancho Santa Margarita are vaccinated, branded and ear-tagged, and 'converted' (that's a more stomach-pleasing, railroady way of saying it, eh?) into steers," railroad chief mechanical officer Phil Reader puts his "Cowboy Hibachi" to work.

By all reports, he cooks meals that make even the toughest ranch hand and railroad man smile. Phil's Hibachi, equally "doing what it does best" next to the coral or along the tracks, was fabricated from a discarded plow share. It looks like a nifty barbecue stand with the fire grate and coffee boiler.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

55 degrees of flowers

55 degrees of flowers
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
I had my first encounter with a you-can't-take-pictures-here security guard this two weeks ago. After snapping a series of shots of these flower pots in front of the 55* restaurant at 5th Street and Capitol Mall, Sacramento, the guard came out of the office building and told me I couldn't take pictures.

The guard was a nicely dressed young man. I got the sense that he was sent out by his boss. His instructions were, "I've been told you can't take pictures here."

Most of my discussion centered around commercial vs. private photography. The guard really didn't engage in the conversation, but just repeated his orders. I left at that point and worked my way to the bus stop.

This may be a indication of things to come for armature and professional photographers. While I agree with many precautions that we take to combat terrorism and crime, I think some of our efforts have gone too far.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How many servings will a 12-inch Dutch oven deliver?

The topic of catering large groups often surfaces on Dutch oven discussion boards, like the IDOS forum and Conversation rarely centers on the business side catering. It's the culinary side of feeding large groups that draws most of the attention. Questions about menus, portion sizes, amount to prepare and equipment are among the most common.

The last discussion that I joined in on began with a question from a Dutch oven group in Porterville, California. Dutchin' Dave, a member of the Sequoia Dutch Ovens, asked this question at
Got a problem. We've been asked to do cobbler for 300 folks at a fancy fundraising dinner for our Cancer Camp for children. We're thrilled to do it, but the problem stems from the fact that the majority of our Sequoia Dutch Ovens chapter is already committed to another function and there will only be 4-5 of us left. Under the circumstances, it's going to be critical that our operation run as efficiently and streamlined as possible. We need to figure out how many ovens these 4-5 cooks are going to have to manage and so we need to calculate pretty closely how many servings we can get out of an oven.
Dave went on to explain his thought process on the issue. Even though he knows how many servings can be served from a 12-inch regular Dutch oven ("6-18 servings of a 'main dish' or 'to 30' servings of a 'side dish'"), he recognized that the number of servings per pot depends upon the portion size.

He planned to prepare one recipe in a 12-inch Dutch oven and scoop the cobbler out in 2- to 3-ounce portions. Dave estimated that the his recipe would yield about 15 servings. The results will, of course, depend on the volume of fruit and topping in his recipe.

To feed 225 guests, Dave figures it will take 15 (12-inch) ovens. He believes "approximately 3/4 of them will want dessert." The remaining 25 percent will avoid dessert due to health concerns or personal taste, said Dave.

Number of cobbler servings per No. 12 Dutch oven
Let me answer Dave's question in two parts. I'll address his immediate cobbler question first since that's the main point of his discussion. Then in a couple days, I'll address the broader question of catering large groups out of Dutch ovens.

I always work from volume, not some generalized table of servings per Dutch oven. Most Dutch oven food is semi-liquid or semi-solid. It spoons or ladles out very well. The key is to calculate the volume each Dutch oven holds for a particular dish and divide by the serving size. That's the basic formula for determining portions per Dutch oven.

There are other factors, like toppings and the number of pieces (of meat, chicken, potatoes, etc.) in the pot. It's hard to serve 20 (1-cup) servings out a pot of pork chops and gravy when there's only 15 chops in there to begin with. Toppings will also limit the number of servings. A pot pie or cobbler that's topped with 15 biscuits will only give you 15 servings.

I like to work out of 14-inch oven when cooking for a crowd. They're lighter than 16-inch ovens and holds more than a 12-inch oven. The 14-inch is a happy medium between lugging heavy 16-inchers and having to wrestle lots and lots of 12-inch ovens. I recommend that you locate as many 14-inch ovens as possible.

I don't recommend using deep-style ovens for recipes that use a topping as a key component of the dish. Deeper ovens are best reserved for bread loaves, large cuts of meat and soups, chili and stew.

The problem with baking a cobbler or crisp in a deep-style oven is it can hold a larger ratio of filling to topping. You'll run out of topping long before the filling is gone. The people at the head of the dessert line will get all the topping.

For the cobbler, I use 2 or 3 (14-inch) Dutch ovens to serve apple crisp to 150 campers. A 14-inch regular oven holds 8 quarts full to the brim. A good working volume is about 2/3 of the oven capacity, or about 5-1/3 quarts of product. Divide that by 1/2-cup into 5-1/3 quarts and you get about 42 servings per 14-inch regular oven. I round to 40. My recipe (below) uses three 14-inch ovens to feed 100 campers.

You can get 50 servings if you push the volume to 6 quarts. Just make sure you leave enough head room for the crisp topping to brown. But remember, to get 50 (1/2-cup) servings per 14-inch oven, you need about 6-1/2 quarts crisp/cobbler in each oven. And don't forget my caution about the filling to topping ratio above.


Dutch oven instructions are located in the notes.

3 (#10) cans sliced apple
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2-3/4 pounds sugar
8 ounces cornstarch
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt

3 pounds brown sugar
1-1/4 pound rolled oats
1-1/4 pounds all-purpose flour
1-2/3 teaspoons baking powder
1-3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
2 pounds butter, softened

Arrange 4-1/2 quarts apples in each greased 18x26-inch sheet pan. Sprinkle juice and zest over apples. Combine granulated sugar, starch, cinnamon and salt; sprinkle half over apples in each pan.

Combine brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter or margarine; blend to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle an equal quantity of the mixture evenly over apples in each pan.

Using a convection oven, bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes or until top is bubbling and lightly browned on low fan, open vent. Cut each pan 6 by 9. Serve with serving spoon or spatula.

Yield: 2 sheet pans

Serving ideas: Serve 1 piece or approx 1/2-cup per portion. Acceptability is approx. 100 percent.
NOTES: Use 3 #10 cans sliced apples per 100 portions. Use two 18x26-inch sheet pans per 100 portions. Three lemons will yield 1/2-cup juice. Two pounds flour (total) may be used in place of rolled oats.

For 14-inch Dutch oven, use 1 #10 can of canned apples and a 1/3 the remaining ingredients per oven. This will yield approx 33 (1/2-cup) servings per oven.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cookin' dinner on a tin can

Although meal preparation techniques have changed dramatically since my days at sea in the 1970s, Navy general messes have always place heavy reliance on canned items like sweet potatoes for the crew. I served during a period of transition from a scratch-made meals to the use of greater quantities of convenience foods, like frozen sauces, entrees and baked items.

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 18, 2008)--Culinary Specialist 1st Class Derrick Thompson prepares a glaze for the sweet potato side dish for the evening meal in the enlisted galley aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59). The Russell recently completed training for an upcoming deployment as part of a Carrier Strike Group deployed with the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Window to the past

Window to the past
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
The town of Alviso (Google map) is a study in contrast. A modern residential neighborhood within the city limits of San Jose, California, the old seaport on the Guadeloupe River has a rich history.

Although overworked on from the photographer's eye, there's plenty of opportunity for the photographer who's looking for a fresh perspective of decaying buildings.

Lettering on the front window to Laine's grocery store in Alviso, California, tells me it was an antique shop at one point in its history. I suppose you could say the wares inside the store were years younger than the building itself. The grocery dates back to the Gold Rush era.

The wood-framed building is slowly rotting away and may soon collapse. When that happens, a piece of Alviso's history will fade into the ground.

Poor in spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3
The preacher's sermon on the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount hit home this morning. He said when you try to understand the what it means to be blessed, don't think in terms of a common English translation of the word.

That word, happiness, indicates a feeling that comes from within ourselves. The Old English root , hap, refers to "one's luck or lot" or "an occurrence, happening or accident," according to We are happy because (presumably) good things happen to us.

We often feel happy in reaction to the events that shape our lives, unlike being blessed, which occurs because we give our complete trust to God.

The key, the preacher emphasised, to understanding the Beatitudes is to learn the true meaning of the Greek word for blessed. Although the word can be translated as happy, you get a deeper sense of its true meaning from the context of the passage.

Being blessed doesn't come from within ourselves, but from without -- from God. We are blessed because we come to God as one who's "poor in spirit." A man in such a state realizes the he's helpless to provide for his spiritual well being. He understands that he must put his complete trust in God.

A happiness that's derived from the events that shape our lives -- like being poor or rich -- mean nothing. God means everything to the poor in spirit.

This deep yearning to learn about the things of God -- a poverty that longs to be filled with His blessings -- is designed to help an man put his complete trust in God. Only those who're so blessed can inherit the Kingdom Go Heaven.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beef hash

I had a rare chance to listen to the Food Guy and Marcy radio show Sunday afternoon, hosted by Food Network chef Guy "Guido" Fieri and Marcy Smothers, wife of Tom Smothers. To preview to St. Patrick's Day food festivities, the hosts talked about their favorite corned beef and cabbage recipes.

Somewhere in the hour, Fieri explained how he makes corned beef hash. His basic formula is a 1:1 ratio of beef to potatoes. Other than onions, garlic and seasonings, Fieri keeps the recipe simple.

This prompted me to think about preparing beef hash for dinner. With a leftover beef tritip roast in the refrigerator, I cook an un-corned beef version of classic hash last night.

I ground the beef, potatoes and onion together in an old Climax No. 50 cast iron meat grinder. Other than salt and pepper, that was the recipe. The best part of eating the classic dish of beef hash are the accompanying poached eggs, catsup and hot sauce.

A note of caution: Don't grind the ingredients too fine as I did. This particular model doesn't have a blade to cut small chunks off small chunks of meat as the auger pushes it through grinding plate.

Although the meat didn't fare well as hoped, the dish was still good. Perfectly ground potatoes and onions had a way of canceling out the stringy beef. The hash was full of flavor. (And the leftovers were even better Wednesday morning!)

A medium or coarse grinding plate produces a coarser hash. Ideally, use a plate with 1/4- or 3/8-inch holes. In fact, supermarket butchers commonly use a 3/8-inch grinding plate to make chili grind.

If you can, use a meat grinder that has a grinder blade that's mounted outside the plate. This cuts the meat into nice, even balls. Make sure the blade is sharp to for even, consistent cutting.

If you prefer, use my corned beef hash recipe from 2005. It gives you a chunkier texture. Substitute beef for corned beef if desired.


Vary ingredients to suit the tastes of your family. Replace some of the onion with green bell pepper or celery if desired.

Leftover beef roast
Potatoes, peeled if desired
Vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper
Dried thyme

Finley chop or grind beef, potatoes and onion in roughly equal portions into a bowl. Lightly season with salt and pepper and dried thyme. Toss to combine.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add several hands full of hash to the skillet and spread to level, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch deep. Work in batched for large amounts.

Brown hash, then turn with a spatula or flat spoon. Cook 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fully through and the hash is hot. Serve with catsup.

Stanford Mansion

Stanford Mansion
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook

Sometimes it's difficult -- but not impossible -- to photograph historic buildings without capturing the buildings that dominate the background. You have to walk around the building and look at it through the camera viewfinder. If you're careful, you can excise the modern buildings from the scene.

The Stanford Mansion in downtown Sacramento is one example. I took this picture last Friday after work. What you don't see is the multi-story Resources Building that's located on the same city block as the Stanford House.

I think I've found another view yesterday that should work. I'll look at it next time I take my camera to work.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Outstanding Navy Food Service Winners Named

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) (2/29/2008) -- Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter has announced the 2008 winners of the Navy Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Awards for outstanding food service.

Winter announced the winners in an ALNAV message Feb. 5.

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of this prestigious program. My personal congratulations to the following outstanding food service teams that represent the Navy's warfare enterprises," Winter said.

First-place winners will be recognized during the Joint Military and International Food Service Executives Association awards presentation April 5, in Denver, Colo. Rear Adm. Alan S. Thompson, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command, will speak at a special Ney 50th Anniversary Luncheon the same day.

Ney Afloat general mess winners are:

Submarine category:
First place: USS Louisiana (Blue) (SSBN 743)
Runner up: USS Rhode Island (Gold) (SSBN 740)
Honorable mention: USS Maine (Gold) (SSBN 741)

Small Afloat category:
First place: USS Jarrett (FFG 33)
Runner up: USS Nicholas (FFG 47)

Medium Afloat category:
First place: USS Germantown (LSD 42)
Runner up: USS Russell (DDG 59)
Honorable mention: USS Vicksburg (CG 69)

Large Afloat category:
First place: USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19)
Runner up: USS Emory S. Land (AS 39)

Aircraft Carrier category:
First place: USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
Runner up: USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)

Ney Ashore general mess winners are:

Continental U.S. General Mess category:
First place: Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C.
Runner up: Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.

Overseas General Mess category:
First place: Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan
Runner up: Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy

"Sailors consistently recognize the Navy food service program as an important benefit. It affects the health of our Sailors, morale, and retention," said Capt. David M. Fitzgerald, deputy commander, Navy Family Support, Naval Supply. "These annual awards foster excellence in food service across the Navy Enterprise while improving the quality of life for our Navy personnel."

"I wholeheartedly commend our winners for their hard work and commitment to excellence," Fitzgerald added.

The Ney Memorial Awards Program is co-sponsored by the Secretary of the Navy and IFSEA. IFSEA is a nonprofit food service association dedicated to enhancing the professional image and growth of persons serving the food service industry. The awards encourage excellence in Navy food service programs, with the objective of improving the quality of life for our Navy personnel.

The evaluation teams were made up of senior Navy culinary specialists and IFSEA representatives. In addition to recognizing Navy food service winners, the ceremony also recognizes other food service excellence winners in the 40th Philip A. Connelly Awards (Army) presentation, 14th Coast Guard Awards presentation, and 16th Captain David M. Cook Military Sealift Command Awards presentation.

NAVSUP's primary mission is to provide U.S. naval forces with quality supplies and services. With headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a worldwide workforce of more than 25,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance.

For more news from Naval Supply Systems Command, visit

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Through the eyes of a steam dome

The engine house and museum yard reflect back into the polished steam dome cover from the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 as I take the picture. The Shay geared locomotive is being restored to full operation by the El Dorado Western Railway. It's located at the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We owe a lot to combat veterans

Although two of my ships sailed in and out of Vietnamese waters in 1972 and 1973, I was never directly exposed to combat. So, please understand that I pass this quote on from Lt. Calhoun not as a member of the fraternity of combat veterans, but as a serviceman who has a limited understanding of the sense of loss felt by combat veterans.

It really doesn't matter that Calhoun wrote these words in 1990. I'm sure the events of two and one-half weeks combat on the island fortress Corregidor were permanently etched in his mind. Combat has a way of changing the lives of its participants forever.

Here's Calhoun's description of his deep sense of loss as the 2nd Battalion prepared to leave Corregidor on March 8, 1945:
For the most part we were happy, and relived, to be leaving this dusty mass of wreckage where death lurked at every turn. Possibly just as great an emotion was intense pride; we had retaken our great fortress marking this event forever as the high water mark of our lives, or at the least ranking with the high water marks. Memories were indelibly burned in our minds for so long as we shall live. Yet not all was joy. We were leaving behind some forty-nine battalion brothers who would never grow old. Even after forty-five years the grief is still there. Another thought which survives the years is the haunting question, why them and not me?
As a nation, we owe these veterans the greatest sense of gratitude we can muster. They gave their lives -- even those who survived the 49 who remain on the island to this day.

It's their sacrifice (and that of all veterans before and after World War II) that allow this nation to live and enjoy the freedoms that we hold dear. Thousands of lives have changed just in my 55 years on earth. While our freedoms come from the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it's the serviceman who allows us to keep those freedoms.

Whether fighting the spread of Communism in Vietnam and during the Cold War or fighting terrorists on the fields of Iraq and Afghanistan today, many veterans willing enlisted in a cause they see as greater than themselves. These men and women have set their individual lives aside for a time to willing and voluntarily serve their country.

And many gave their lives so others could live. When you see a veteran today, give him a hug and offer your heart-felt thanks. He or she has been through a lot.

Let me close with this though from Lt. Calhoun from an article titled, "Does it Matter?":
... physical discomforts are superficial which can be laughed at ... later.

It is the mental trials that are seared in the soul. The memory of those young men with whom you served will never end. We were a close team, brothers following orders in every move. Our association was seven days a week. More that that, we company grade officers were required to censor mail--a hated task. I learned their loved ones, their dreams, their fears, their plans for the future, and often their inner thoughts. To some I became father-confessor. As some made the supreme sacrifice, the living became more precious. "Oh, God, don't let them die!" Though that pain began so long ago, it is still here today. The tears still flow and will as long as I draw breath.
Enough said ...

Cookin' on another bird farm

Until January 1, 1975, two different occupational fields -- called ratings by the Navy -- provided food service for the officers and crew. The stewards operated the wardroom and the officer's staterooms ship while commissarymen cooked for the enlisted men and chief petty officers.

Most commissarymen, myself included, looked down on this duty. We though it beneath us to serve officers.

Although I never had the opportunity to work in officer's country during eight and one-years active duty, I later supervised the wardroom cooks as a naval reservist. Today, I think I missed out. Looking back, I would've enjoyed the opportunity to serve in a flag, cabin or wardroom mess.

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 7, 2008)--Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Michael Freitas slices bell peppers in the commanding officer's galley aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is operating as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eduardo Zaragoza.

Cookin' on a bird farm

These official Navy photos of the cooks and bakers on-board the USS Harry S. Truman were taken by three different photographers. Each brings a slightly different perspective of the working life of today's culinary specialists while deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. Air craft carrier cooks work long hours during increasingly longer at-sea periods. These floating airfields were affectionally called "bird farms" in my day.

PERSIAN GULF (Feb. 28, 2008) Culinary Specialist Seaman Samuel Mckever, left, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Danny Viera prepare steaks for the enlisted galley of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Matthew A. Lawson.

PERSIAN GULF (Feb. 28, 2008) Culinary Specialist Seaman Jamie Snyder checks an officers order ticket as she prepares grilled chicken in the wardroom's galley aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo J. Reyes.

PERSIAN GULF (Feb. 27, 2008) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jessica Guenard decorates a cake in the bakeshop aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Kevin T. Murray, Jr.

Truman and embarked Carrier Air Wing 3 are deployed supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ships that stand on end

After wrestling Corregidor from the entrenched Japanese army, the Second Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, boarded a division of nimble Navy LCIs on March 8, 1945. The battalion, along with the rest of the regiment, made a combat jump onto the island fortress on February 16, 1945 to liberate the island in Manila Bay.

After nightfall, "the seas became wild. The LCIs seemed to stand on one end and then the other," recounted William T. Calhoun, platoon leader of 1st Platoon, F Company.

The seas were so bad on their overnight voyage north to Mindoro that sleep was not an option. Like sailors have done for centuries, the soldiers found they had to strap themselves into their bunks as a matter of survival. They "tried various means of tying ourselves onto the bunks with out web equipment."

When dawn broke, the soldiers of F Company surveyed their surroundings. Many latched onto any object that would keep them from being thrown overboard. Others bowed their "heads over the side desperately trying to throw up when there was nothing left to throw up."

But this isn't the most interesting passage in Lt. Calhoun's account of the voyage. The Navy cook seemed to be the sickest member of the crew. Here's what the battle-hardened paratrooper had to say:
The galley was particularly noisy. The galley was manned by one cook who prepared meals for the crew. The passengers had to bring their own field rations aboard. In this instance the ship's cook seemed to be the sickest of all, hanging on the chains at the fantail.
Calhoun's story is reminiscent of my own experience in the South China Sea 27 years later as a cook on the USS Cocopa. Calhoun continues:
I don't think he really cared if he hung on or not- a fall into the deep might bring on the peace of Davy Jones's Locker and end all this misery. A look into the galley disclosed the source of the noise. A large frying pan with associated utensils was bouncing from wall to wall. Raw eggs had hit the walls and run down to the floor. Evidently the cook held on long enough to get several eggs into the pan ready to cook when he was overcome, dropped everything and headed for the fantail. The old salts were not happy with this land-lubber who had yet to gain his sea legs. They were hungry.
I feel for that cook. My typhoon came in July 1972 as the Cocopa shipped out of Subic Bay for Da Nang, Vietnam.

The lunch menu included hamburgers, French fries and beans -- food that doesn't stay down very long once the ship slams into the first wave.

Through the fog and rain, Grande Island appeared off the port beam as she left Subic Bay. The Cocopa slammed into the the first of a series of breakers. Upon entering the open sea, this tired, old tug sounded as if she would break up any time.

Like the LCI cook, my hands were busy. In a split second, I had a decision to make: grab the copper full of boiling water or the hot oven door. Instead, I ducked for safety.

The Cocopa slammed into the next wave. Hamburgers became lethal projectiles. Pots and pans danced about the deck as spice cans dropped like grenades. My French knife, laying on the cutting board, hurdled towards me as if it were under its own power.

For the next three days, the cooks of the Cocopa produced three meals each day. Surprisingly, many crewmen lined up as soon as the meal was called. I couldn't call in sick even though I was about as sick as the unnamed LCI cook.

But I -- and those 200 sailors and paratroopers on the LCI -- somehow survived. My hat goes off to them.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ten Ninty One

I first learned of the Ten Ninety One six years ago. Two brothers from our church in Folsom treated their father to the California state reunion of the USS Landing Craft Infantry Association in Eureka. Their father served on an LCI as an engineer during World War II.

The reunion included a cruise on the former USS Landing Craft Infantry (Large) 1091. The Ten Ninety One, the current name of the World War II amphibious vessel, has been homeported in Humboldt Bay since the late 1980s.

My three years of sea duty in the 1970s included an 11-month tour on the USS Cocopa (ATF-101), a sea-going tug from the same era. Small ships like the Cocopa and Ten Ninety One were ideal duty for a young ship's cook.

Feeding less that 100 crewmen gave the cook the chance to personally know each member of the crew. Take one electrician's mate on the Cocopa. He'd never order anything but scrambled eggs. Two beaten eggs -- always fresh eggs as he could sniff out powdered -- immediately went on the griddle when I saw tall, skinny sailor dodging obstructions on the overhead as he came up the starboard passageway.

After the US Navy sold her, the Ten Ninety One worked as a salmon cannery ship on the Yukon River in Alaska from 1961 to 1985. Dr. Ralph Davis, a Eureka-area dentist, purchased her in 1988 and fished Albacore out of Eureka from 1995 to 2003. The Humboldt Bay Naval Sea/Air Museum currently holds title to the Ten Ninety One. She was moored at the foot of T Street when I took these pictures on July 22, 2006.

I'd love a chance to cook on the Ten Ninety One someday. It has all the accoutrement's of the Cocopa -- compact galley, modest crew size and the opportunity for one-on-one service.

Life on an World War II LCI wasn't all rosy for the crew or the cook. Rough seas, confined food preparation spaces and meager supply of essential food stuffs reminded the crew that this wasn't the Waldorf Astoria. And mealtime swelled to over 200 hungry mouths when a company of soldiers or Marines came aboard.

Stanley G. Galik described his father's World War II experience as a ship's cook on the USS LCI 35 in the Mediterranean and English Channel:

The ship did not have a movie projector or even a washing machine for laundry. Frozen food was stored in a 20-cubic inch chest freezer (when it wasn't broken) that also served as the base for a mess table for crew meals. In the galley the ship's cooks, including my father, used a four burner oil stove to prepare meals for a crew of 20-30 sailors and the 3-6 officers on board.

By all accounts, the senior Stanley Galic was a "good cook who made the most of what he had to work with."

"He was the only one that could make Spam taste like chicken or steak," said two former shipmates. No doubt two years as a cook for Civilian Conservation Corps Company 3356 in Hot Springs, New Mexico, taught him the impact a good cook had on morale.

I could get used to cooking on a cozy ship like the Ten Ninety One. The marriage of the compact galley, tucked away on the starboard side of the deckhouse, and tight nit crew could make for a pleasant cruise.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

One museum's junk is another man's treasure

On March 29, 2008, the El Dorado County Historical Museum will be holding a walk-through of surplus items on sale. Offers can be made by sealed bid due by 4:00 PM that day. Photographs and descriptions of the items to be sold are posted on the county's Purchasing Department website.

All items on sale have been reviewed by the Museum Commission and do not fit into the museum mission because of condition or history. Items will be, for the most part, sold in lots. Individual items on sale of note are the 1954 Willys, an upright George Steck and Co. piano, antique oil dispensers, an antique lathe, and antique washing machines. Please see the website for the complete listing.

Rain date for the sale will be April 5, 2008. Please call Mary at (530) 621-5828 for more information.

Mary Cory
El Dorado County Historical Museum