Small boat cruising does not mean you have to live small. SWMBO and I both enjoy cooking, and our kitchen at home reflects our interest. With our busy and typically conflicting schedules, often the only time we are able to connect and decompress is when we cook together, so we've made our kitchen a place where we can work together and produce results that make us happy. We have gadgets and gizmos and stainless steel and stuff, even power salt and pepper shakers. Some really great memories and some really great food have come out of that kitchen
On Whiskeyjack, on the other hand, we have a small galley.
Really small. Six square feet of surface area would be generous.
Equipment-wise, we have a two burner alcohol stove, an icebox, a sink, and cold water. That's it. No oven, no microwave, no refrigerator, no blender, no mixer, no dishwasher. We have happily discovered that cooking aboard has become a valued component of our life aboard, and Whiskeyjack meals rival anything we could produce onshore.
How do a pair of gadget-loving foodies learn to cope with the basic tools available on the boat?
In the words of Gunny Highway*, we learned to adapt, overcome and improvise.
Here's what we have learned:
1. Plan your meals.
Before you provision your boat, put together a basic menu for the duration of your voyage or stay. Then, plan your snacks. Then,stick to it. By taking the time to set out what you plan to cook and when, you don't end up buying more than you need, and buying more than you will use. Space is at a premium, and it makes little sense to try to stow a case of canned tomato soup when you are only going out for the weekend. The space those cans take up is space that could be put to better use, like, say, rum storage.
2. Know the limitations of your equipment.
If you haven't got an oven, don't plan to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. If you have only two burners, it doesn't make sense to plan a fine dinner of pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, and peach cobbler for dessert. Do the math- it just ain't gonna work.
3. Simple ingredients can produce sophisticated results.
We only have 7 powdered spices aboard. We don't keep much produce. The staples are seasoned salt, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, curry, pepper, sea salt, cumin, paprika, chili powder, fresh garlic, and ginger.
Produce is always sourced fresh, and we try not to load more than we can use. In Cajun country they talk about the "Holy Trinity", the three ingredients that go in damn near everything, celery, onion and pepper. On Whiskeyjack, we have "The Four Horsemen": celery, onion, pepper and garlic.
4. Garlic makes everything better.
5. Everything tastes better on a boat.
6. Baguettes are the Swiss army knife of bread.
Half a loaf for garlic bread for dinner, the remainder makes great small pan french toast for breakfast, or lay hand-torn chunks out on a cutting board with a block of cheese and cold cuts for a quick afternoon snack. One warning, though- it is damn hard to disguise a three foot long baguette as you walk down the Dock. Everyone you pass will look at the bread poking out of your dock cart, then contemplate whatever lesser meal they had planned on their own boat, then start angling their way into getting in on whatever you planned to use that tasty-looking bread for.
7. Free food gets you free booze.
Offer someone a meal, and they always ask, "what can I bring?" No matter what you reply, the guests always bring booze.
At least on our Dock.
Your dock may vary.
I love this place.
This weekend, we had our first shrimp boil.
This may be come a regular event.
Serve straight out of the pot with a baguette and/or some garlic bread.
It. Was. Tasty.
Need a quick appetizer? Pears on toast.
I'll put our most successful recipes up on a new page, available in the upper left hand corner.
Got a good two-burner recipe? Send it to me and I'll add it to the recipe file, with due credit given to the source.
*Clint Eastwood's character in Heartbreak Ridge, with the best collection of taglines any Eastwood character has ever had. Including Harry Callahan. Which is saying something.
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