Chesapeake Chef: Embrace Your Galley
by Caroline Foster
Let’s face it, we all develop great tips and tricks for cooking on a boat because we don’t want to live without our creature comforts. Do we really want to spend a whole weekend aboard without our perfect morning coffee, ice that’s not a block, fresh-baked cookies or even whipped cream? Okay, maybe we can live without the whipped cream. But wouldn’t it be nicer to have it?
We may feel the need to walk down the dock clutching our Cuisinart and Keurig, at least until the strange looks from fellow boaters makes us stop and wonder, “Is this really a good idea?” Facing reality, we turn around with our equipment and come up with Plan B. Here are some of my favorite Plan B tips to keep that dream of a luxurious weekend alive.
Let’s start with coffee. Every boater has his or her own coffee preference, from percolators and open drip to instant. But few coffee drinkers don’t like French press coffee. Unfortunately, most French press carafes are too small, not insulated and are breakable. Now check out the Bodum Columbia French Press (www.bodum.com; $60–$90)
The Bodum combines all stainless- steel construction with insulated double walls. And it comes in various sizes, the largest holding 12 cups. It will keep that coffee hot all morning. But if it cools down by afternoon, just put it in on a low burner to heat it up again—that’s something you can’t do with a glass or plastic carafe. And, you can’t go wrong with the Hario Skerton Ceramic Burr Hand-Powered Coffee Mill (list-$60, Amazon price—$34.) Perfect.
Let’s move on to chopping and mincing. Flat cutting boards on boats can be a problem when the first big wave hits and your scallions go flying. The Ulu cutting board bowl ($21–$40; www.theulufactory.com) [picture ]solves the problem. The Ulu consists of a wooden block with a bowl-shaped indentation one side. It also comes with a curved-blade knife that fits perfectly within the bowl. That means what you chop stays in the bowl. If you need a flat cutting surface, just turn the Ulu over and use a conventional knife.
Space saving items are a must on a boat. Collapsible bowls work great. In their full popped-up position, large ones can hold popcorn for four or any amount of cookie dough you mix up. And in their flattened state they serve as a great dog dish, complete with a “drip pan.”
Another collapsible item to consider is the recycled sail cloth ice bucket by Sea Bags of Maine (Seabags.com). I had long avoided buying one because it seemed to be a hefty price for repurposed sails. But when I got one as a gift, I realized it was totally worth it. These sea bags not only hold more than a conventional ice bucket, they also drain water through a grommet. You can also crush the daylights out of the ice without tearing the bag. Besides, they’re pretty!
Did I just mention cookie dough? Whether you buy the dough or make it yourself, insulated cookie sheets are the way to go. Stack one on top of another to keep your cookies from burning against the hot flame of those little galley ovens.
While we’re on the topic of desserts, let’s revisit that fresh whipped cream idea. And let’s do it with no generator. This can be accomplished with the galley multi-tool of your dreams: The Hand Cranked Ultra Chef Express ($20; scchang.com; available on Amazon). It chops, mixes, blends, whips, slices, shreds and juices. It has various-sized mandolin slicing attachments, graters, an egg separator and a hand-cranked food processor that can chop your tomatoes into gazpacho in a minute. It also whips cream as fast as any conventional electric beater. This is a gadget just made for sailors—using a hand-cranked processor is just like winching in the genoa sheet.
And now for a geeky galley gadget, the infrared temperature sensor. You probably already have one for checking engine temperatures. Just point the little infrared light at your subject—engine, galley oven or grill—and get an instant read. Coupled with a pizza stone, this gizmo is the secret to perfectly grilled pizza. These come in a variety of styles and costs, from $15 to $150 or more.
So as you can see, provisioning doesn’t have to involve the five-quart Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, but it also doesn’t have to feel like you’re camping either. And remember, the more time you spend aboard, the more tips and tricks you’ll come up with for yourself. Plan B is not so bad after all.
Caroline Foster is the co-author of GalleyPirates.com—Inspirational Cuisine for Cruising.