That’s the answer to the question we get asked on a regular basis. What’s your secret in the galley on passage? It’s precooked meals.
When you are on a passage (either non-stop or a trip involving long sails with anchorages overnight), you most likely will not be very creative in the galley. But a lovely home-cooked meal that you take out the freezer and allow to defrost during your journey will only require a short microwave heating or a 20-minute jaunt in the oven, and you will be hearing ‘hooray hooray!’ Clean-up will also be a breeze, an added bonus.
Let’s talk about what you would prepare and if you have the capacity to store ready-cooked meals. Obviously, each boat has a unique layout and spec for the family living onboard. Even if you have limited fridge/freezer space, precooked meals will take up less space and can be stacked in a manner that maximizes the capacity of the unit.
Variety is also something to think about. You don’t want to eat the same meal day in and day out! However, if you made a simple meatloaf, you could transform it. It could evolve into a Salisbury steak (meatloaf with a mushroom gravy), a beef burger (meatloaf sandwich), a bolognese (chopped meatloaf in a marinara sauce), or a beef Wellington (meatloaf wrapped in puff pastry)! What about a steak flatbread with creamy Gorgonzola (thinly sliced meatloaf)?
The options are endless!
If you approach the task at hand by preparing most of your meals or key contenders (your protein), your provisioning will be a breeze, you will not be wasteful and there is no risk of over-purchasing. Think logically about each meal, make a list, look at the space you have available, and conclude whether or not you have the capacity to store it all.
Speaking of provisioning … some thoughts on that:
If you swapped places with me, you would take note that the only canned goods I have onboard DOUBLESTAR are tomatoes ?, tomato paste, sweetcorn, beans, mushrooms, coconut milk, tuna, and fruit. I also like to have marinara sauce as well as Thai curry paste (both red and green) as a must-have—they are so versatile. Grains and pasta make for a good variety too. These would include polenta (grits), couscous, rice ,and pasta; they will last and store for months – if done so correctly!
Baking goods are also an essential. The pantry should be stocked with flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, sugar, and any other staple you and your family use on a regular basis. If you are gluten-intolerant, you can substitute with other readily available flours.
Your spices and herbs are another must-have. I’d be lost without curry, Garam Masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel seed, garlic powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, dill, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and harissa, but we all differ in our choices. Oils and vinegars are also a personal choice. A few of my favorites would include both red and white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil and sesame oil.
Ah—and then you get to your condiment selections. Mine include Dijon mustard, ketchup, garlic chili sauce, mayonnaise, chutney, pickles, and capers. One could go a little overboard in this department, so remember you need to be able to store these items in your fridge once opened. You need to be very selective here!
When it comes to frozen food, it would have to be peas, peas and more peas, please! The uses are endless for these legumes. You could have them as a side, in a pie, in a pasta dish, or simply make them into a delightfully bright soup.
Pastry is another great item to stock up on. Yes, being a chef I should really make my own, but having a very cold environment on a boat, especially in the galley, is not always feasible, therefore I feel that buying pre-made pastry is acceptable in this instance. I can never have too much butter either! We spread it, sauté in it, bake with it, make a roux out of it, or simply baste with it.
My love for eggs and cheese sometimes has me a little paranoid that I will run out. I am never without at least 2 dozen eggs. We consume them in the morning, afternoon, evening, and sometimes even at tea time should the necessity arise. Quiche is something we eat on a regular basis, so eggs are essential (I like to use 5-6 in my recipe). Another favorite is carbonara (here I use 5-6 yolks at a time too and the whites are transformed into the lightest pavlova ever). Now you can see why 2 dozen are essential!
Where does my passion for creating in the kitchen come from?
My love for the culinary arts began at a very young age. I remember being the crepe maker in our family, standing over the stove for hours at a time (as my family’s love for crepes called for tripling the recipe) and that called for more of those EGGS!! Creativity and experimentation are foundational to my approach to cooking.
I’m always trying to improve my recipes or create new ones for my family and I to enjoy. Being a person who never sits down for a minute or two makes for a very productive chef. Thinking back to my land life, one thing I do truly miss are my recipe books! I had my very own bookshelf dedicated to my passion for cooking. The books I acquired over the years all had one thing in common: they were extremely visual.
You eat with your eyes!
The food you work so hard to prepare needs to look worthy of eating, that is why presentation is vital. I now have a very select few of those books with me on our yacht. However, technology has played a huge part in our galley. Pinterest has me searching daily for new inspiration, and has broadened my classically-trained mind to be open to a multitude of cultural delights as a result.
Living on a boat in destinations where provisioning is not always easy requires improvising. Therefore, I hardly ever use a recipe. I create meals with what’s on hand rather than choosing a recipe and then hunting down ingredients.
Passing it all on to the next generation
As a mother of two wonderful children, I am pleased to see their approach and attitude towards food is a positive one. Both have developed a keen interest towards the culinary arts, creating wonderful meals as a result. I guess with my genes it was inevitable. I applaud them both, and look forward to the many meals I have yet to sample.
I’m a keen believer that most people use far too much salt in their dishes, while I, on the other hand, use very little. Time and patience are the creators of flavor, not sodium!Reductions in sauces is what enhances and develops a dishes flavor, taking it to the next level. On the odd occasion that we as a family dine out, we bear the negative effects it has on us the next morning when we jump on that dreaded scale only to see the numbers have risen. In essence it’s the sodium, but also all that liquid gold that most chefs use to build flavor.
Your equipment is something that will also define how and what you can cook on a boat. Living on one full-time has really challenged my ability to create things I would like to. Your stove/range/cooker are a key contender as to your success or failure. I have had to resort to a few aids in the galley, as my electric ceramic oven is too small to even roast a small chicken! Convection is also a luxury, one we unfortunately don’t have. Sometimes you can only prepare a meal that is feasible and not one which you may desire. In the end, it’s the effort that reaps the benefit.