This happens all the time: someone takes one look at our boat and pipes up “Guess you guys eat out a lot, huh?”
um, not really.
For the record, we rarely eat out. We're former restauranteurs, and we both love to cook. We cook a lot, and elaborately, and we literally NEVER go for fast food. Why would we? The food we make is so much better (and, of course, healthier and more interesting) than anything any drive-through could offer.
|A small galley doesn't mean we cant get interesting. These are stuffed baby eggplants with a Northern Indian spicing.|
The misconceptions about cooking aboard continue to amaze me.
The Galley of Tesla's Revenge has a single burner propane stove. We have a small freezer, a cooler, a small smoker that we use sometimes up on shore, and not a lot of storage space for foodstuffs. Yet, for all that, we manage to crank out of plethora of soups, stews, exotic pot dishes, frittatas. . . a whole range of healthy and interesting dishes despite—and sometimes because of—the limitations. We roast our own coffee. We make our own butter, brew our own Ciders and Ginger beers. We do more in house—and easily and more economically—than most folks with vast kitchens would dream of doing.
|Keep your cooking space uncluttered and your tools handy.|
So here, gentle reader, are our suggestions of how to make the most of a small galley. As a note, this applies as well to your camper, apartment, or dorm room, just sayin'.
First of all, let go of the idea that you have to do long term menu planning. The lack storage means—rather happily—that you'll be doing a lot of “market shopping,” that is to say, buying what you need for the next few meals, driven by what is local and in season. All that makes for a healthier, tastier diet, and a greater local knowledge of the area in which you're docked. Introduce yourself to your local butcher, your fishmonger, your local farmstand. As a Livaboard, you have a built in interesting story, and folks are generally happy to be part of that. Is there food growing wild near your moorage? We've found crab apples and raspberries and mulberries, dandelion and day lily (not to mention fish and crab, but that's another story entirely) growing happily for the taking near the very heart of the marina. Build your meals around what you find, and let the ingredients shine, adding to them stable staples that you CAN afford the space to store: pastas, grains, nuts, and the like. We don't have a lot of foodstuffs in stowage, We DO have a ton of spices, herbs, sauces, flavorings, and we make liberal use of them.
|You'd be amazed what you can do aboard. This is a hard cider in the making, made from foraged crab apples. It was amazing.|
Do your prep up front for as many of the dishes as possible so you don't get in your own way. Take the time to think through the process of preparing the meal. What will take the longest to cook? What can sit for a bit and what has to be served right off the burner? What can be brought up to temperature and left aside to continue to cook on it's own (residual heat is your friend). What can be cooked in the same pot, at the same time? It's like a puzzle, like the kind of reverse engineering you have to do when blacksmithing or doing ceramics, and it really rather adds to the enjoyment of preparation.
|Compact, versatile tools like stick blenders can stand in for a host of single use kitchen appliances.|
In that regard, think of meal components that can be rolled into other meals. Cooking country ribs? Get enough to cook an extra that can be part of a frittata or salad the next day. Your sauteed veggies for lunch can be the basis of a stew for dinner. Think in terms of components rather than meals and menus.
|Spectacular food is just a matter of being willing to experiment. . . .that and a good wine merchant.|
Don't crowd your galley with a lot of single-use gadgets. Buy good knives, good pots and pans, and make them work (Almost all our cookware is cast iron. It holds heat well and lasts forever, despite the weight). Some compact appliances (I'm a big fan of stick blenders) can do the work of several single use kitchen toys. If you're not using it, get rid of it and use the space for more spices, dried fruits, or another bottle of really good wine. Set up the work flow with the galley sink and your stove and work surfaces so it's comfortable and efficient and so you're not having to do gymnastics to get past one another just to make lunch. It's amusing to watch, granted, and can make for some fun Youtube videos, but after a while saying “excuse me” every six seconds begins to pall. Set up your space so you can work largely from a single position and you'll be a lot happier.
Also get to know some of your slipmates. Sharing dishes in a potluck can make for some great meals, some great friends, and a lot less effort and expense on everyone's part.
And, finally, remember, you objective is your own enjoyment. Food is social, food is entertainment, food can be history and culture and wonderfully reckless experimentation. Let it happen.