Read an Excerpt
The Boat Galley Cookbook
800 Everyday Recipes and Essential Tips for Cooking Aboard
By Carolyn Shearlock, Jan Irons
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A GALLEY FRAME OF MIND
We each faced a huge learning curve when we first began cruising—everything from what gear we needed to how to provision and even how to cook in a limited space. In these chapters, we've tried to pass on all the things we wish we'd known!
BOAT COOKING IS DIFFERENT
No matter what anyone tells you, cooking on a boat is different from cooking ashore. That doesn't mean it has to be difficult, though. We want to give you the information you need for success—information we both wish we'd had when we began cruising.
In this chapter we explore the following challenges in cooking aboard:
What's On Board Is What You Have
Cooking from Scratch
Few or No Electrical Appliances
Small or No Refrigerator/Freezer
The Motion of the Boat
Heat in the Boat
Also be sure to read our chapter "Special Galley Cooking Techniques."
WHAT'S ON BOARD IS WHAT YOU HAVE
Once you leave the dock, you're generally not able to run to the store if you suddenly realize you're missing something—or to the Internet if you need to find out something. Whether it's provisions, pans, tools, or recipes, you have to make do with what you have until the next time you are at a store.
To some, this is scary: what if I forgot something? I (Carolyn) prefer to see it as a chance for innovation: what can I do with what I have? I've developed some of my best "recipes" simply because I was making do. Now they've become family favorites!
I have three basic coping strategies for dealing with the challenge of being away from stores:
Planning and list-making—these make it less likely that I'll forget something I really need. You can download my free Inventory and Provisioning Spreadsheet from TheBoatGalley.com. Some cruisers constantly update their inventory so they know exactly what's available; we both prefer to just do an inventory before a big provisioning run.
Innovation and creativity—substitutions don't have to perfectly re-create the original recipe; they just have to produce a good meal. Our Food Substitutions chapter can give you lots of ideas for alternatives. And most of our recipes list alternative ingredients. Where you see "(page XX)," the reference is either to a substitution or a recipe to make the ingredient yourself.
Prioritizing—would we rather spend more time in a great anchorage, or reprovision? Usually we opt for more time in the anchorage, but at some point the balance tips in favor of reprovisioning.
Limited space refers not just to stowing provisions but also to limited space for food prep and for pans and utensils, fewer burners on the stove, less space in the oven (if you have one), and a smaller sink. You're likely to have less equipment than when you're ashore.
Our ways to cope:
Buy versatile items. This is obvious with things like a can opener that also has a bottle opener on it, but how about using a wine bottle as a rolling pin? And buying basic ingredients that can be used in lots of different recipes, instead of single-purpose prepared foods?
Many kitchen gadgets aren't really necessary. You can do the same thing with more basic, all-purpose tools. See our gear substitutions in the section Equipment Substitution: Making Do (page 7).
Think about stowing equipment when you buy it. Read more about this in the section Buying Galley Equipment (page 6). Nesting pans and bowls will help; there are also collapsible bowls, colanders, and measuring cups that take up less space than their traditional counterparts.
Don't give space to things you don't need. For example, throw away the cereal box on the dock—it takes up more space than the bag inside. Buy boneless meat, or bone it before freezing it (see page 256 for details on boning meat). One caveat, though: sometimes things that seem to be just "taking up space" are actually protecting something from breakage, so don't discard things without thinking about their purpose.
Check out our tips for storing provisions in the limited space available in our "Food Storage" chapter.
Think beyond the galley when you're looking for space to prepare food. I used the engine cover as an extra counter, and sometimes the nav table, too. Many galleys have covers that can be put over the stove or sink to make additional counter space when needed.
Plan ahead for space limitations. If you have only two burners on the stove, don't plan a menu that requires three. Don't buy a turkey that's bigger than your oven, or if you do, plan to cut the turkey into pieces so it will fit.
If one of your "space limitations" is no oven, learn to bake on the stove top (pages 74-79) or on the grill (page 78).
COOKING FROM SCRATCH
If you usually use prepared food and package mixes, the idea of cooking from scratch can be intimidating. Few of us cook from scratch on a daily basis anymore; cooking from scratch is seen as something that "foodies" and gourmets do. But it doesn't have to be that way: you can cook simple meals from scratch every day, without spending forever in the galley.
As we wrote this book, we tried to keep in mind the cruiser who, like Jan, tended to just heat up prepared food when living ashore. We've worked to provide detailed directions for making everyday dishes to give you the confidence that you, too, can create good meals without a lot of fuss. Start with simple things like chili and spaghetti sauce. With some basic ingredients aboard—and this book—you can make anything you want.
FEW OR NO ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES
Many cruisers find the idea of no (or few) electrical appliances to be even more intimidating than the idea of cooking from scratch (and many find the combination overwhelming). But virtually anything that you can do with an electrical appliance, you can do by hand.
There are two critical keys to success:
Good tools. Sharp knives and a grater can replace a food processor, and a good mixing spoon and a potato masher can do the work of an electric mixer. You don't need a lot of tools, but don't skimp on quality. See the section Buying Galley Equipment (page 6).
Recipes designed to be made without electricity. That's where this book comes in. We don't assume that you have a microwave, blender, food processor, or electric mixer, although you certainly can use them if you have them. We give you the step-by-step directions you need to prepare food by hand, even if you've never done it before. And our recipes are designed to be made with hand utensils so you won't be exhausted by the process.
SMALL OR NO REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER
Your boat may not have a refrigerator and/or a freezer. If it does, it's likely to be much smaller than what you're used to ashore, yet you're likely to go longer between trips to the grocery store than when you're ashore.
The obvious way that cruisers cope with this is to use less prepared frozen food and cook far more from scratch. But there are many other ways to meet the challenge, and we've included a lot of information to help you in other chapters of this book:
Tips on using a boat refrigerator and freezer in the section Coolers/Refrigerators/Freezers: Using and Troubleshooting (page 20).
How to use a cooler for food storage (page 22).
Storing produce without refrigeration (page 41).
Making tasty meals from canned meat, which doesn't need refrigeration (page 303).
Lots of recipes for canned goods and foods that don't require refrigeration.
THE MOTION OF THE BOAT
Everything you do is affected by the motion of the boat—some days more than others!
Things like standing (or needing a hand to hold on with), pots sliding on the stove, bowls and cutting boards sliding on the counter, bottles tipping over, and holding a knife are all affected by the motion of the boat. Then there are the stowage issues: produce bruising, pans and plates clanking in lockers, items breaking or becoming missiles. It's all a challenge!
The first week is a huge learning curve, as is the first bit of rough weather. But it's not that bad once you get the hang of a few coping techniques. With time, these come naturally.
Always assume that the boat is going to move erratically, so use stove gimbals and pot restraints (see page 14) no matter what the conditions are. Even in a calm anchorage, a fishing boat can come flying by and put up a big wake.
Never set anything down where it's not restrained, particularly items that could cause injury if they fell (knives, boiling water) or could break (anything in glass).
Use non-slip materials liberally—cutting boards with non-slip edges, knives with non-slip handles, dishes with non-slip materials on the bottom, and so on.
Sit down to work when you can. And when you can't, find ways to brace yourself so that if the boat rolls, you won't lose your footing. This is particularly important when you're doing something that could result in an injury, such as using a knife or pouring boiling water.
When pouring boiling water or other hot liquids, put the container that you are pouring into in the sink and wedge it in, rather than hold it in your hand. Make sure the stream of liquid is going fore and aft, not athwart-ships. This way, spills and splashes won't burn you.
For tips on stowing provisions so they won't be harmed by the motion of the boat, see the chapter "Food Storage."
Keep pots, pans, dishes, silverware, cans, and all noisy gadgets quiet with lots of padding. See the chapter "Equipping a Galley" for tips on stowing particular items.
Even if you have a watermaker, chances are that you don't have as much water as you'd really like due to the power it requires. And without a watermaker, you're limited to what your tanks will hold.
The two biggest things that you can do to reduce your water consumption:
Don't waste water. Don't run the faucet longer than it needs to, don't cook food in more water than it needs, and don't make more coffee or other drinks than people will drink. When washing dishes, make a small bowl of soapy water (in one of your dirty dishes) rather than a sink full. Use a small houseplant watering can to rinse dishes.
Re-use water when you can. For example, use the pasta water to rinse dishes or make bread, use leftover coffee to rinse dishes or soak a pan. When you drain liquid from canned food, save it to use in other dishes (it will add flavor, too).
The topic of conserving water always turns to whether or not you should use seawater in cooking and washing. Neither of us does. The question is whether it is sufficiently pure that it won't make you ill. I would never use seawater while coastal cruising; it's my understanding that there are pollutants that are not totally removed by boiling or treating with bleach. Having said that, veteran circumnavigators Lin and Larry Pardey use seawater for cooking regularly without boiling and with no ill effects.
If you do decide to use seawater in cooking, it should be boiled and used in a 1:2 ratio with fresh water, even for foods that you would otherwise add salt to, such as when cooking pasta or vegetables. To use seawater to wash dishes, either boil it or add bleach (eight drops per gallon of clean-looking water; double the bleach for "dirty" water). Again, we don't recommend using seawater. You do so at your own risk.
HEAT IN THE BOAT
The biggest source of heat in the boat is the galley. On a hot day, you're trying to keep as much of that heat out of the boat, and on a chilly day, you're trying to keep it in. Without air-conditioning or an auxiliary heater, managing the heat from cooking plays a big role in staying comfortable.
On hot days, use the stove or oven as little as possible. Eat cold foods, cook on the grill, and, if you do use the stove, choose foods that cook fast or can have a large part of their "cooking" done in a thermos. A couple of good 12-volt fans and a wind scoop will help, too.
Cold days are the time to indulge your cooking desires: make soups and stews that need to cook for a long time, and bake bread and cookies. You can eat well and stay warm!
EQUIPPING A GALLEY
Equipping a galley is different from setting up a home kitchen. There's a lot less space. You won't have as much—if any—electricity. You'll have to conserve water. It's a moving platform. You may be doing a lot more cooking from scratch, and there may be fewer options for buying new gear.
We'll assume you're not designing your boat from the keel up or doing a major refit. As we both did, you're probably going to use your galley with the fixed items—the overall layout, the stove/oven, and the cooler/refrigerator/freezer—more or less unchanged. Instead, we'll focus on choosing other galley gear and in using the stove/oven and the cooler/refrigerator/freezer. Specifically, this chapter covers:
General things to think about when buying galley equipment
Ways to get by with less gear
Tips on specific items, based on our experience and preferences
Ways to get the most out of your stove/oven and cooler/refrigerator/freezer and solving common problems with each
BUYING GALLEY EQUIPMENT
What gear should you have in your galley? There's no one-size-fits-all list. Every boat and every person is different. What works on a 60-footer with a family of five heading out for three years wouldn't be appropriate for a singlehander on a 25-foot boat who spends occasional nights on board.
Your style of cooking, and what you like and dislike, won't change just because you're on a boat. If there is something you really feel you can't live without, you'll find a way to take it. Conversely, if you didn't use it on land, you're not likely to use it on a boat.
That said, you need less than you think. Great meals don't depend on lots of fancy equipment. If you're starting from scratch, don't buy everything at once. Buy the true essentials first, then add items as you're frustrated by not having them.
Before buying anything for the galley, and in determining whether a particular item will work well aboard, ask yourself these questions:
Do I really need it, or can I use something already on board? Think about how often you'll actually use a piece of gear and see the section Equipment Substitution: Making Do (page 7). At the same time, trust your judgment. You know what you consider critical gear, so don't worry about what some "expert" (yes, even us) says you do or don't need.
Can I stow it in the space available? Carefully measure your stowage areas and potential purchases. Many times, product specs don't include handles, so measure items yourself.
Can I use it in the space available? Most galley counters, sinks, and ovens are smaller than their "house" counterparts. For example, a standard-size cookie sheet won't fit in many boat ovens. Measure carefully!
Will it work when I need it to? Items that break are a pain anytime, but they're even worse when you won't find a store for a month or more.
Is it likely to break or rust? Boat life is hard on standard kitchen gear. High-quality items are often cheaper in the long run. Stainless steel and soft plastic are least likely to have problems, but we both have some carefully considered breakable items in our galley—just not critical items.
Is it non-slip? Will I be able to hold on to it? With the motion of the boat, it's important that things stay where you put them on counters and won't slip out of your hand. See the following section, Galley Safety, for ways to make items non-slip.
How hard will it be to clean? Everything has to be washed by hand on most boats, and lots of little nooks and crannies take time and water to clean. Opt for things that can be completely disassembled. Nonstick pans take much less water to clean.
Does it take power? How much? It's fine to have some electrical appliances aboard if your setup can handle it, but realize they are luxuries and have manual backups.
The galley has the potential for accidents, but many of these can be avoided with some thinking as you're outfitting your galley and deciding where things will go.
Have a working fire extinguisher and a fire blanket; arrange your galley so both are located where you could quickly and safely grab them if there was a stove fire.
The stove and its fuel are potentially the most hazardous items on the boat—not just for burning the cook, but the risk of explosion and/or a fire. Read the owner's manual, follow all safety precautions, make sure the stove is installed correctly, and perform any necessary maintenance and fuel leak testing at the recommended intervals.
When planning where you'll stow items, never place things behind the stove that you'll need when the stove is on. Reaching over a lit burner is asking for a disaster if the boat moves just a bit.
Excerpted from The Boat Galley Cookbook by Carolyn Shearlock. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.