Friday, September 14, 2012

Deadliest cooking

I first met Travis Lofland from the F/V Time Bandit at the West Marine flagship store opening in Sarasota. He was appearing there along Edgar Hansen from The F/V Northwestern. Travis looked like he just stepped off a crab boat, and had. He was in between trips sporting an unruly mop of hair, and a full beard. This time not so much, short hair, no beard, and he was proudly promoting his new cookbook "Catch". 

The event was a family fun fair for kids to raise money for the YMCA youth shelter. If you bought his new cookbook, he would donate the all profits to the shelter. 

Despite the crab fisherman persona you see on the Deadliest Catch, Travis is a smart, funny, and genuinely nice guy. He's been living in Sarasota area, while completing his private pilot training.

During that afternoon he was swarmed by kids, and people wanting photo ops, and even graciously spent an hour in the dunking tank much to the delight of the crowd.

I asked Travis, "who cooks on a crab boat", and his response was something like, if you can cook, you do, if you can't, none of us want you to. On the subject of crab, the reality is very little is eaten on the boat, the goal is to get them into the tank.

I liked the Catch cookbook. I went online and have read most of the reviews others have written. They mostly all say nice things, but many call it a "Mans" cook book. Now if you want lots of recipes with tofu, bean sprouts, and orange flower water this is not for you. If you're looking for easy to make, interesting dishes made from fresh ingredients, this is a good addition to the book case.

The Catch cookbook is a collaboration between Travis, his brother Jason, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef currently living, and cooking in Hawaii, and their sister's photography. The first section clearly smacks of Travis, and it's recipes from the crab boat. These shipboard "comfort food" recipes are designed to feed cold hungry wet crew members lots of hot carbs. They include "high seas stroganoff", "no time for meatballs spaghetti", and "on the boat beer can chicken". The Beer can chicken recipe calls for eight aluminum foil balls to be packed around the chickens. This keeps the birds from leaving the pan during a bad day on the Bering sea, as if you get very many good ones. You will most likely want to modify some of the proportions in this section since these recipes are configured to feed a large crew.

The rest of the sections are a mix of both Travis', with lots of Jason's classically trained touch. Interesting soups and sandwiches, salads, apps, entrees, side, desserts, and rubs and sauces finish the mix. As you would expect, there is also a good emphasis on seafood. The complete index also makes it easy to access the recipes. My favorite is the Firecrackin shrimp brochette with jalapenos and pepper jack. And I gotta love a cookbook that has a spam recipe. Hawaiian cuisine meets the Bering Sea.

Mixed within the book on a bed of fun anecdotes, are lots of preparation tips called "Bro notes". Good photography, entertaining dialog from both Chefs, along with shipboard tales from Travis round out this tasty tome. Everything can be prepared on a boat that has a BBQ grill on the side needed for some of the recipes.

You can buy the book  at Travislofland.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble book sellers. How's that for my first book review? I bought the book using my hard earned cash, some of which went to charity, and the review was unsolicited.

Where was I? Oh yeah the fund raiser. The event was a small family carnival for children like young Isla Cawley (pictured left) who could play simple games to win prizes, get their faces painted, and wear balloon animal hats. Every child is a winner. This was one of a series of events that have been sponsored by the Geckos Grill and Bar chain to help buy a new van for the YMCA youth shelter.

The youth shelter serves kids between 10, and 17 years of age, who for a variety of reasons have no other place to go. The home provides a structured environment with emphasis on social skills. Tutoring is provided three day a week, and for those in school, transportation to and from is provided. They have two aging vans, and really needa new one that would be dependable for longer trips around the county. So if you can to help, you can contact Nicole Hartsock at nhartsock@thesarasotay.org. They provide care for kids, that have fallen through the cracks, and need all the help they can get.

Deadliest Michael Gowan in training. He will get there.

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