Needing Less Doing More

Tag: brownies

Banff Brownies Gourmet Galley #4

A spoonful of inspiration.

Vegan, no sugar added brownies that will knock your socks off.  This is why I need almond butter so bad!

We have made Banff brownies twice in Nila Girl’s galley.  Once on our passage to Jamaica (please reference Day 3 blog post) and once while my brother, Corey, came to visit.  I am not much of a baker, never have been but I will admit that if you really want to make someone feel truly happy, special, have a big dish of warm homemade brownies waiting for them.  These are the sentiments I want to impart to both Ren and Corey, which is why I have made brownies for both of them.  Homemade brownies does not mean you’ve opened a box, added water and baked them in your oven.  Homemade means you have dirtied at least four different utensils during the measuring and mixing process.  And in the case of these brownies, you have used more than three ingredients.  Besides, Banff brownies do not come in a box at the store.  In fact the vegan, no sugar added recipe is the brainchild of the ever inspiring Banff Luther of Pavana.

These brownies mix up wet.  Even after baking they are a moist, sticky mound of black pleasure (why is it that the brownie description is already sounding like the preface of a porn novel?).  The brownies are so dense that your fingers get lost in them as they sink deep into the gooey food while you are just trying to hold one of them (again, maybe I should omit the words “Banff brownies” change them to “Chuck Longwood” and send this article to Hustler).

Banff always had a fresh supply of these brownies made up.  If he had a vice, this was certainly it.  He was not ashamed to turn us all into brownie seeking zombies searching for our next fix.  So here we are, in the Bahamas addicted to Banff brownies but there is a serious problem.  Bahamians cannot bake brownies.  They can do bread.  Their fresh, warm coconut bread is unrivaled.  They can also make a sort of tart, so I have heard, I never tried one myself though.  Why would I?  The tart does not have chocolate in it.  But they make brownies in the fashion of their English brethren, dry, bland and wholly unsatisfying.  Like a little square of dry chocolate cake, crumbly and bad.  Banff brownies are in the sharpest contrast to these abominations of chocolate.  Remember folks, we cannot all be good at everything.  Bahamians, stick to bread.  By the way, you owe me $1.75 for the crappy little confection you misnamed “brownie” that I bought in Governor’s Harbor.  Yes, I ate it anyway but not because I wanted to.  Only because I am compelled to finish everything on my plate.  This is in thanks to my half Italian heritage, I am sure.  I have got to learn when to say, “Basta!”

Banff Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup white wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup Hershey’s extra dark cocoa

1/4 cup regular cocoa (we used carib powder)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2.5 tablespoons vanilla (we are pirates now so we used rum which is a perfect vanilla substitute)

1/4 cup water (we used rum…just joking)

1 cup agave nectar

3/4 cup safflower oil (we used olive oil which we do not mind but it’s a lot stronger than safflower oil and affects the flavor slightly)

3/4 tub almond butter (we used peanut butter because we ran out of almond butter a long time ago and my brother brought us Nutella instead of the almond butter we requested…FAIL)

Mix all ingredients by hand until smooth and pour into any baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until the middle is loose but tooth pick pulls out clean.  Baking times may vary depending on size of the baking dish or maximum temperature of your oven, which in our case, Nila Girl’s only reaches 300 degrees.

When done, let cool 10-15 minutes for settling before cutting.


NOTE: The ratios above are copied from a recipe I got from Banff himself.  All substitutions are  unauthorized but work!

Journal to Jamaica Day 3

A journalized account of our non-stop sail through the Windward Passage from Long Island, Bahamas to Port Antonio, Jamaica.



My A.M. shift ends at 7:00.  I have been at the wheel since around 2:30am and have done my fair share of hand steering.  Usually we just set Duane the Wind Vane and he steers for us.  This frees up our bodies and minds.  Having to hand steer takes a lot of mental fortitude.  Looking ahead a the deep blue nothing, staying on course, occasionally fighting oncoming waves, staying awake…for hours. 

Untitled 10

A cockpit shave job. Only the best for Ren!

Ren took over at 7:00am and I went straight back to bed.  Before my morning nap I had slept one hour the previous night.  My nap tacked on almost four additional hours of sleep.  Usually we get eight to ten hours of sleep per night, uninterrupted.  Change this healthy pattern to maybe five hours per twenty four hour period, not a consecutive five either.  Five hours taken in one to two hour increments, not healthy.  We are both extremely tired.  The lethargy can be blamed partially on the oppressive sun.

I woke from my nap sweating.  The waves have turned into a lake and the wind is non-existent.  Not even a breath of it to dry my sweaty body.  We have resigned ourselves to firing up the ol’ “Iron Jib.”  We hate to do this because running the engine both wastes fuel and costs money.  However, we cannot spend the day going nowhere either.  I have a flight to catch from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale in a couple of days to try to hustle us some money teaching freediving.  Also, let’s look at the numbers.  Since we have left North Carolina we have only had to purchase fifty nine gallons of diesel.  Fifty nine gallons and we run the engine whenever we need to.  This means, we have not been exceptionally frugal with our fuel.  Back home, Ren’s F-250 Ford diesel pickup held thirty eight gallons of fuel.  He would burn a whole tank of fuel per week on average, running around town.  This does not account for out of town trips, the diesel for his tractor, or the diesel for my car.  Our little Perkins is nice and efficient.  Today she will run to keep us on track.  She is currently running 6.3 knots with some help from the mainsail and spinnaker with only one hundred and forty four nautical miles to go to get to Port Antonio.


The wind is so calm that we had to take down the spinnaker to keep it from flapping around.  The engine is making sure that we maintain a respectable speed.  Today is really going to affect our overall trip average which stinks because we made such great time the first couple of days.  Besides the breathold tables and arm workout I will do later, when it is cooler, my goal is to dry out a bunch of my cold weather gear that got soaked during the more turbulent weather of the last couple of days.  Nila Girl still has some leaks, a problem I am hoping we can completely eradicate this summer.  When water leaks into the boat usually when we are heeled over pretty far or taking waves over the bow, it leaks mostly in the v-berth area.  This means that our freshly laundered sheets and some of our clothes have become tainted with sea water.  The tainted items will never dry.  The salt in the sea water hold water in, keeping things feeling damp.  I can hang the affected items out and get them crispy in the sun but there are still two problems:

1. Salty, crispy clothes itch.

2.When the items contact moisture again, even just the humidity, they feel as wet as when you first found them doused in saltwater.   

We will have to rewash everything when we get to Jamaica.


A beautiful end to a beautifully calm day.  We just ate supper in the cockpit under the nearly full moon.  I seared up a piece of mahi for Ren and made a cold pasta and pea dish.  My belly was craving something without a lot of seasoning and I wasn’t in the mood for any meat tonight.  Oreo had fish and cheese. 

Speaking of Oreo, his spirits were exceptionally high today, as were mine and Ren’s.  Since the seas was so calm and the winds were down we had to run the engine through the entire day (it is actually still running now).  This means that we had a calm day on the ocean.  The kind of day where we were afforded the opportunity to accomplish some goals.  I dried out all of the salt tainted clothes and bedding described before.  Ren re-glued pieces of our dinghy that were causing air to leak.  I made Banff Brownies, a recipe passed on to us from Banff on Pavana (see earlier blog entries for Banff description).  The brownies are sugar free, for all of you athletes in training out there.  Oreo walked all over the boat, going out on the gunnels anytime he wanted.  We relaxed and enjoyed the calm.  I was able to do another breathold table and stretching session today.  My arms are really sore from the workout yesterday,  I love the feeling of soreness earned through physical exertion.  It is good for the mind to push the body to hurt.

We still have not seen anything notable in the water.  No turtles, dolphins or anything, except the beautiful fish we caught.  We are now only ninety eight miles from Jamaica.  I am looking forward to exploring a strange new world.  I am also looking forward to the trip back to Fort Lauderdale.  It will be sobering to see some old friends again.  I also look forward to the prospect of making a bit of money.  It feels good to line the pockets with a bit of cash.