Meet a Blogger Who's Leaving Her Portland Life for a Year on a Sailboat

August 23, 2016

Meet Brooke Bass, who took a leap from the academic sphere (as a candidate for her PhD in sociology!) to the world of food and photography, becoming the blogger behind Chocolate + Marrow. This New Orleans native settled in Portland, Oregon, where she writes recipes rooted in the city's seasonal produce. Her colorful Nasturtium Butter Bucatini with Fried Lardons—which caught our eyes and appetites this week—incorporates bright edible flowers, melted into a butter sauce, and thickly cut fatty, salty lardons.

Brooke is just taking her next leap: She's traveling the Caribbean Sea with her husband on a sailboat and some of her latest recipes, like her Coconut Ice Cream with Pineapple Sage and Crushed Pistachios, already have the island rhythms at play.

Here is more from Brooke on her transition to a new life at sea:

Photo by Brooke Bass

The kitchen kept me sane in my final years of graduate school. It was the one place I could turn to when I wanted to just be. Where I could just let ingredients speak to me as I cooked. No notes, no photos, just pure simple groundedness. I know that sounds all woo, but it's true. Cooking, to me, is meditative.

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When I decided to share the food I was creating via blogging, some of that changed. Recipe development requires lots of attentive note-taking! But I found the blog space provided the greatest opportunity to explore burgeoning interests and passions, from photography and styling to growing vegetables and herbs to mastering dishes or techniques I’d never attempted before. Now I blog full-time and love the challenges and opportunities for growth that it provides, both in and outside of the kitchen.

Photo by Brooke Bass

In the past, the recipes I’ve shared have drawn a lot of inspiration from both my New Orleans upbringing and the bounty that I have access to here in Portland, where we’re spoiled by so many fun and unusual ingredients, many that can be found in our own backyards.

Actually, the inspiration for my Bucatini with Nasturtium Butter and Fried Lardons literally came directly from my backyard, from the pot of nasturtiums that I keep as a solution to my little aphids-on-the-broccoli-plant problem. (Nasturtiums attract aphids so that they don’t attack my garden brassicas.) But nasturtium leaves and flowers, the ones without aphids on them, also have this really soft peppery kind of flavor—sort of like radishes—that made for a playful compound butter that I’ve been using all over pasta and toasts. Add in a little salty fried lardon, along with a handful of grated Parmesan, and it’s simple perfection.

Photo by Brooke Bass

But the blog is going to change a lot in the coming weeks as my husband and pack up to move aboard a 41-foot sailboat to cruise the Caribbean for a year or so. I feel a little crazy about this decision, a lot excited, and just a teensy bit nervous about what it's going to mean to be a food blogger on a boat that has no freezer, very little pantry space, a limited water supply, and that gets (most of) its electricity from two solar panels. I think it will also be an adjustment to get used to life without access to Pacific Northwest bounty and the garden I’ve come to love.

But I'm trying to convince my husband that I can find a way to rig up at least some kind of small boat garden somehow (nasturtiums, included!), something that will be able to handle all the pitching and rolling of a boat but that will help keep my cooking fresh and inspired. If anyone has ideas for this, please send them my way! I’m not the engineering type and am starting to get desperate.

Coconut ice cream with pineapple sage and crushed pistachios. Photo by Brooke Bass

My most recent recipe post, for coconut-pineapple sage ice cream is, to me, playfully symbolic in a way: Pulling together ingredients from my current Portland-life and my future boat life. Giving a nod to the pineapple sage plant in the garden that I'm going to miss so much. It was also a farewell to my ice cream maker, which I said I wasn't going take on the boat since it's got just one single purpose, but then y'all went and told me I could use it for daiquiris, so now I’m thinking I might have to reconsider!

Other Links We Love from Brooke:

Brooke's blog is Chocolate + Marrow. What links did you love this week!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • dymnyno
  • Brooke Bass | Chocolate + Marrow
    Brooke Bass | Chocolate + Marrow
Freelance Food Writer


dymnyno August 23, 2016
Oh! the places you'll go!!!
My husband and I spent most of our winter vacations sailing in the Carribean from the BVIs to Grenada. You will not believe the food and produce in the French Islands. The markets are fabulous and fresh seafood is wonderful. They will come out to your boat and entice you with lobsters and conch. Have a wonderful time!
dymnyno August 24, 2016
ps: I lived in Portland for about 8 years...what a sentence and I couldn't wait to get out of the constant drizzle...the sunshine of the carribean is wonderful!!!
Brooke B. August 24, 2016
@dymnyno your comments absolutely just brought a big smile to my face! Thank you so much for your words about the markets. I'm honestly so nervous to leave the bounty we have here in PDX but you've reminded me that the Caribbean is bountiful, too, only with some very different goodies. I can't wait!

Too funny about the Portland rain. I'm a rain baby, for sure, and absolutely love winters here. Of course, by the end of them, I'm ready for the warm summers again, but the rain makes my heart happy so I think Portland is somehow a good fit for me! Hehe