SOS breakfast from an old Coastie

Jan 19, 2015 by Capt. John Wampler

Back in the 1970s, I served in the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the Columbia River Lightship. Basically, we here a 158-foot floating lighthouse anchored 8 miles off the mouth of the Columbia River. Transportation of the rotating crew (typically six weeks on, three weeks off) entailed riding the self-righting 44-foot motor lifeboats from the Coast Guard’s international lifeboat school at Cape Disappointment. These lifeboat crews took great joy in giving the lightship crews an “exhilarating” ride across the Columbia River Bar.

Once onboard the lightship, we were greeted in the galley by breakfast, which we normally lost on the ride out to the lightship. In the United States, creamed beef on toast was commonly served to soldiers and sailors in the Armed Forces. In American military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism “S*** On a Shingle” (SOS) made from ground beef or “Crap on a Raft” if made with dried, salted chip beef.

It is the former that I present here in as it is more flavorful.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

8 slices toast

Salt and pepper

Prepare

Sauté beef, onions and garlic in skillet. Once thoroughly cooked, drain meat in a colander.

In the same skillet over medium heat, make a roux by melting butter and then add flour, mixing until smooth. Continue stirring until the roux starts to turn slightly brown.

Return meat to skillet and add milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to keep from scorching sauce in bottom of pan. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on toast and garnish with dried basil or paprika.

Capt. John Wampler has worked on yachts big and small for more than 25 years. He’s created a repertoire of quick, tasty meals for crew to prepare for themselves to give the chef a break. Contact him through www.yachtaide.com. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

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